Geitz: Lightning can strike again
ROCK-solid defence. Tick.
Finals experience. Tick
Home court advantage. Tick.
Netball legend Laura Geitz says the Sunshine Coast are ticking all the boxes they need to capture a third-straight Suncorp Super Netball crown.
The Lightning will host the NSW Swifts at USC Stadium on Saturday in the major semi-final with the winner to host the grand final on September 15.
Geitz - who led the Queensland Firebirds to three titles and the Australian Diamonds to World Cup and Commonwealth Games gold - did not expect the Lightning to challenge for the championship again after the off-season departures of Geva Mentor and Caitlin Bassett.
But she said it was a "special effort" to be in contention for a third-straight season.
"The Lightning are a team that just knows how to win. You see games where they are down by however many goals and you just know they've got it covered and they'll win,'' Geitz said.
"They've got a very good defence which is winning a lot of ball and creating a lot of opportunities while Noeline Taurua is a very smart coach who says the right things at the right times to rally her team.
"And they've done it all before and that experience is priceless. I didn't think they'd play finals this year but they are clearly a team with a lot more depth than some people thought.
"There's so much to be said for having that home final too in front of your own fans and potentially having that week off. Right now, you have to say they are favourites.''
Geitz said Lightning defender Karla Pretorius shapes as the most influential player of the finals series.
Pretorius was the 2017 grand final MVP and was named player of the tournament at this year's Netball World Cup, so the big stage is something she relishes.
"Karla is just incredible. She seems to match-up well on everyone. She is just a match-winner who comes up with ball when the Lightning need it time and time again,'' Geitz said.
"I remember seeing her at the 2015 World Cup and thinking how amazing she was then. She was half the player she is now and her partnership with Phumza Maweni is so important.
"They just don't sit back. They win ball and create opportunities. They are proactive not reactive which is great because the best form of defence is attack.''
Geitz said Collingwood could come from fourth to meet the Lightning in the decider as the Magpies had found form and momentum at the right time. Collingwood play the Melbourne Vixens on Sunday in the elimination final.