Lightning's 2017 triumph has them steeled for another final
NETBALL: Sunshine Coast assistant coach Kylee Byrne says the experience of a successful campaign last year has steeled the side for this year's decider and provided them with an advantage over West Coast.
The reigning champions will collide with the Fever at Perth on Sunday. Bookmakers have installed the visitors as underdogs but the Lightning know what it takes to win on the big stage, having clasped the title in their inaugural season.
Nine of 10 players from that squad remain.
"I think the experience that the players got from being in last year's finals series is a huge advantage for us,” Byrne said.
"It's actually something we have over the Fever because they have limited finals experience.”
Indeed, until this year West Coast had featured in just one play-offs match from 21 campaigns. This will be their first grand final.
But the Lightning players are familiar with grand final week and know what it's like to play on the big stage.
"It's a strength of ours,” Byrne said. "The players are very composed at the moment.
"While there will be some nerves, I think they know what the job is at hand and we'll be using that to our advantage.”
They will be playing on Fever ground but Byrne said her charges can handle that.
"We know we're going into hostile territory and they're going to be doing everything ... from a fan point of view to get Fever over the line,” she said.
"But it only helps build our atmosphere. We've seen from our last few games (wins away in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney) that we rise to the occasion when there is plenty of noise and the pressure is on.
"I think that's one of our strengths as well. That we have players with that big game experience who know how to perform in that environment, when the spotlight is on.”
Four of the Lightning's roster are representatives of national teams.
She also said the persistent jetsetting had not bothered them and they were ready to fly again.
"Our away record holds us really well. We like travelling and being a team. We call it our bubble. The athletes are certainly well prepared for travel and we run to the same routine every week.”
The Lightning players have a clean bill of health following their nine-goal win over the Giants on Sunday.
In-form midcourter Kelsey Brown had a minor finger complaint post-game but was given the all-clear on Monday.