More sports from across the ditch

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian
www.sunlive.co.nz

It was only a matter of time before the Sunshine Coast joined the other major Queensland major cities in hosting a national sporting competition franchise.

The split of the Trans-Tasman netball competition at the end of 2016, provided the impetus for the Sunshine Coast to establish a team to compete in the Australian Netball League with the formation of the Sunshine Coast Lightning.

Few could have imagined the heights that the fledgling Sunshine Coast team would reach against the hardened veterans of the Trans-Tasman Netball League, when the Aussie competition kicked off in 2017.

The master stroke was the appointment of New Zealand master-coach Noeline Taurua, who had guided "our" Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic to outstanding success, before she crossed the ditch to take the reins of the Lightning.

Given zero chances except for the few Lightning believers, the team from the Sunny Coast of Australia went all the way to grab the 2017 Australian Netball League crown in their debut season.

Facing the hurdles of half a season of air travel to the countries state and provincial capitals, strengthened the resolve of the Kiwi coach and her team, before they dispatched the Giants in the 2017 Grand Final.

Chasing back to back titles, has become a battle of attrition for the Lightning in the last three weeks. A draw and a one goal win, set the scene for last weekends trip across the Australian continent to play the Fever in Perth last Saturday night.

After the visitors got out to a four goal lead, the Fever clawed back the deficit to snatch a dramatic 59-58 victory.

Another Sunshine Coast team to finish with a loss on their ledger card last weekend, was the Sunshine Coast Falcons, who play in the Queensland Cup rugby league competition. The Queensland state wide competition is similar in stature to the NSW Cup that our NZ Warriors second team plays in.

The Falcons also have plenty of travel on their season agenda, venturing to the far north and to Papua New Guinea to lock horns with a local representative team. Squaring off with the Townsville Blackhawks on Sunday, saw the Sunshine Coast side post a 22-8 loss in the far north of the Sunshine State.

Rugby League attention now turns to the State of Origin game three in Brisbane on Wednesday night. While the game is a dead rubber after New South Wales took out the series in the first two encounters - Queensland pride (and a stadium full of Queensland fans) will be firmly on the line as the Maroons endeavour to avoid the dreaded whitewash.

P.S. It is interesting to note that both the Sunshine Coast Lightning and Falcons have strong links to the Melbourne Storm rugby league franchise.

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