ON THE BALL: Madeline McAuliffe is wary of the
ON THE BALL: Madeline McAuliffe is wary of the "impressive” Collingwood Magpies ahead of today's clash at USC Stadium Paul Kane

Lightning's home spark to be tested

NETBALL: Sunshine Coast midcourter Maddy McAuliffe says the Lightning's home court strength will be put to the test as they seek to fend off an "impressive” Collingwood Magpies.

The two sides will clash at USC Stadium on Saturday with both embroiled in a hotly-contested fight to secure a berth in the Super Netball's finals.

The Lightning currently sit just outside the top four and head into Saturday's match having only lost one of their previous five fixtures at home.

Only four rounds remain in the season, and McAuliffe said securing a positive result in each was crucial.

"Having two at home (out of the next four games) is definitely going to help,” she said.

"Our home crowd is pretty incredible and I think we've seen throughout the season so far that home games have really had a say in how teams have performed.”

Although they have a strong record at home, the Lightning will run out against a desperate seventh-placed Magpies.

They toppled them in their last outing in round four, but McAuliffe expected a far greater test this time around.

"Any team right now is pretty tough, Collingwood have a phenomenal line-up and all 10 of those girls can get out there and do a pretty impressive job so we know it's not going to be an easy task that's for sure,” she said.

"I think every team is improving week by week and that's the intensity of Suncorp Super Netball, so I have no doubt that they'll turn up and put their best foot out there.

"They have nothing to lose either.”

Lightning's Stephanie Wood also expected a tough battle at the Sippy Downs home but was hopeful her side could earn maximum points as they fight to cement a spot in the top four.

"Magpies have been very good in quarters and they have a lot of stars across their court and when they put that together they can be quite unstoppable,” she said.

The usual sea of Lightning colours will have a tinge of orange on Saturday as the club hosts a 'ginger round'.

Fans are being encouraged to embrace the Ginger Factory-sponsored theme and don orange wigs or spray their hair orange.

"It's great to have theme rounds and we're always looking to have new ways to get our fans involved and to make our game day a little bit more exciting,” McAuliffe said.