‘Disgraceful’: Netball star sent off
The 200th Super Netball match has been marred by the controversial send-off of Giants player Kristiana Manu'a, with the Sunshine Coast Lightning fighting back from six goals down to win 58-57.
The Giants were forced to play the last nine minutes of the match at the University of Sunshine Coast on Wednesday night with just six players after defender Manu'a was sent off for her second incident of rough play.
The goal defence was suspended for two minutes in the third quarter after a challenge on Lightning shooter Cara Koenen, before being penalised a second time for rough play leaving the umpires no option but to send her off.
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With no substitution allowed, goalkeeper Sam Poolman was left to defend two shooters in the circle, with the Lightning clawing back the six-goal buffer to take a bittersweet win.
Giants captain Jo Harten had two chances to win the match with a super shot but missed both opportunities.
It was Manu'a's send off that dominated post-match conversation though, with commentators deeming it "disgraceful", saying she had eyes only for the ball on both challenges.
"We're here to have an opinion on things. I'm going to give you one: as far as I'm concerned I think it's disgraceful," former West Coast Fever and Wales coach Sue Gaudion said. "It shouldn't have happened. I believe Kristiana Manu'a's intent was for the ball only. It was the same in the moment before."
Lightning captain Laura Langman was also uncomfortable at the end of the match, saying it was an "unfortunate way to finish".
"It was definitely interesting, I don't think we wanted to finish the game like that," Langman said.
"I felt at the time it was probably setting up for a really nice battle in that last nine minutes.
"We had to create something and we certainly didn't want to finish the game playing on six players.
"I thought we did pretty well but we certainly got out of jail."
The Giants clawed their way back into the match after the Lightning bolted from the blocks but were in control late in the match.
Harten, who started the match at goal attack before a switch to shooter and a game-swinging combination with Kiera Austin from the second quarter, was livid in the final stages but careful not to be overtly critical of the umpires after the match.
"That was quite a tricky game to play in, I don't think I've been in anything quite like it professionally but we gave it our all," she said.
"I think it was just a confusing match, there could have been more clarity throughout.
"We had a player sent off and that's the bread and butter of it. If you've not got your goal defence, it's going to be tricky from that point.
"We could have won that game twice, I missed the shot twice."
SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 58 (Koenen 32, Wood 15, Proscovia 8, Hunt 3)
GIANTS NETBALL 57 (Harten 27, Austin 21, Bassett 9)
Originally published as 'Disgraceful': Netball star sent off