Sunday’s Super Netball preliminary final turned out to be the final national game for three players from the Giants roster.
The Giants were handed a surprise loss by the Sunshine Coast Lightning 59-50 to end the Giants’ season despite finishing as minor premiers.
Bega’s very own Susan Pettitt had already announced her finish to the national netball arena earlier in the season
“It's been 17 years, so it's time to see what else life can offer,” Pettitt said of the move.
English import Serena Guthrie also announced she would return to England in 2019.
Meanwhile, Veteran defender Bec Bulley announced after Sunday’s game that she will also be retiring from professional netball.
The Giants won the first centre pass, and it was a defensive rebound from Sam Poolman (GK) that gave Giants an early but small lead. Jo Harten (GA) and Susan Pettitt (GS) produced some impressive circle feed opportunities early on, but the Lightning defence was strong from the get-go.
Pettitt was forced from the court due to the blood rule alongside Lightning’s Karla Pretorius due to falls.
Kristina Brice took the court at GS for one centre pass, putting away a goal while there, and Bec Bulley (GD) pulled off a stunning intercept in defence – however Lightning managed to catch and finish the first quarter even, 15-all.
The Giants fired into the second quarter with some intercepts and Harten showing up strong.
However, as the intensity continued to build, the Giants missed a series of opportunities. After a time out, young-gun Kiera Austin took the court in GA and made an immediate impact by converting a defensive intercept taken by Bulley. Jamie-Lee Price (WD) scored two intercepts in a row, but the Lightning finished the first half one point ahead 26-27.
With a strong start to the second half from Lightning, they were able to pull ahead and a few mistakes were punishing for the home team, allowing Lightning to build some dangerous momentum and establish a larger lead.
Looking for any opportunity to gain back some ground, Giants pulled out a number of impressive moves – including a huge intercept from Kristiana Manu'a (GK) out of the circle and Guthrie stealing a loose ball against a slew of Lightning players. But it was not enough to close the visitor’s lead, with Lightning finishing the penultimate quarter 37-43.
Giants produced a promising opening to the fourth quarter to fight their way within two points, but the Lightning called a timeout and fired back to the front and held on for the win.
Lightning will face Fever in the grand final.