A fourth consecutive Super Netball final series beckons for the Sunshine Coast Lightning after clutch shooting from Steph Wood secured a thrilling 67-65 victory over the Giants on Sunday afternoon.
Wood kept her cool in the dying seconds to nail a game-winning Super Shot at USC Stadium to secure the Lightning's seventh win of the season and dent the Giants' top-four ambitions in the process.
Coming off a 20-goal loss to the table-topping Melbourne Vixens, victory was crucial for the Giants' semi-final hopes after falling two wins behind the fourth-placed West Coast Fever.
But after struggling to produce her best consistently through the season, Wood stepped up when it mattered most to break Giants' hearts at the death.
"We knew it was not going to be an easy game," Lightning's South African goal keeper Phumza Maweni said.
"We just needed to step up and make sure we kept the ball in hand and keep the game flowing, we were very hungry for this win."
The round five meeting between these two sides was shrouded in controversy after the send off of Kristiana Manu'a reduced the Giants to just six players for the final nine minutes, the Lightning storming home to win by one goal.
The rematch remained incident-free but there was no lack of drama as the gritty Giants stayed in the contest with timely long-range shooting.
Jo Harten levelled the scores with 15 seconds to play with her side's 12th Super Shot of the game.
Scores were level at 18-18 after a tight opening quarter and while the Sunshine Coast dominated the time in possession in the second period, they were unable to cash in on the scoreboard with Super Shots from Harten and Kiera Austin cutting the Lightning's half-time advantage to one goal.
The third quarter played out in a similar fashion to the second, the Giants relying on their long-range shooting to reduce a seven-goal deficit to one heading into the final period.
But the big-game experience of championship winners Wood and Karla Pretorius did enough to guide the Lightning home.
Sunshine Coast can seal a semi-final berth on Tuesday night with a win over the West Coast Fever at USC Stadium while the Giants will fight to keep their season alive against the Collingwood Magpies on Wednesday night.
Australian Associated Press