Lightning crush Giants in Super Netball boilover

Matilda McDonell of the Giants and Cara Koenen of the Lightning compete for the ball Albert Perez/Getty Images

Sunshine Coast Lightning loom as this season's biggest Super Netball improver after starting their campaign with a shock 65-50 trouncing of the Giants at USC Stadium.

From the opening pass on Sunday, the reigning wooden spooners blew the Giants - who made last year's preliminary final - off the court, ensuring a dream debut for rookie coach Belinda Reynolds.

Tall Jamaican defender Kadie-Ann Dehany was sensational on the last line for the Lightning, partnering expertly with legendary South African defender Karla Pretorius, who was terrific in her first appearance in the competition since 2021.

The pair combined for 16 deflections and six intercepts, constantly putting the Giants' shooters off their game.

"I didn't know this was Lightning's first (round one) home game for over seven years so we definitely wanted to put on a performance for the home crowd," Dehaney said

"I think we did that today.

"Big shout-out to B (Reynolds). She put in the hard work for us to be able to put in this performance today."

Dehaney and Pretorius' defensive brilliance, coupled with some slick midfield movement, allowed Diamond Cara Koenen (50 goals) to prosper in the shooting circle.

After forging an early four-goal head start, the home side stormed ahead 11-5 and seldom relented.

The Giants were without injured skipper Jo Harten, incredibly missing her first ever game for the club.

In Harten's absence, Jamie-Lee Price stepped into the role of acting captain and - repeatedly and inspirationally - played a lone hand in trying to drag the Giants back into the game.

The visitors, marshalled by Price, briefly stole the lead on an 8-1 run late in the first term as Matisse Letherbarrow temporarily broke free of Dehaney, before the Lightning regained control.

Up 16-13 at quarter-time, Sunshine Coast pulled ahead 32-22 at halftime after dominating the second period 16-9.

Koenen drained 16 without a miss in the third term to help extend the Lightning's buffer to 48-34 at three-quarter time, a lead which was never in danger of being reeled in.

The Giants showed some resolve in the fourth stanza but were ultimately undone by lopsided penalty (64-33), turnover (29-15) and rebounding (2-9) counts.