MIDCOURTER: Madeline McAuliffe of the Lightning looks to pass the ball during a match last season.
MIDCOURTER: Madeline McAuliffe of the Lightning looks to pass the ball during a match last season. Paul Kane

Queensland derby excites Lightning midcourter

NETBALL: Sunshine Coast midcourter Madeline McAuliffe is eagerly anticipating the next instalment of one of Australian sport's newest rivalries, to be played out in Brisbane on Sunday.

Her side is geared for another intrastate encounter with the Queensland Firebirds, after they contested two gripping matches in Super Netball last season.

They shared honours on the first occasion before the Lightning won the next, en route to the title in their maiden season.

"There's definitely intense competition between every team but I think there's something particularly special about playing another Queensland team," McAuliffe said.

"It's always a great game with the Firebirds and it's nice to have that competition within Queensland, so we're really excited about that.

"But we know that this weekend is definitely going to be a tough game, which should be very physical and really looking forward to getting back on court."

The 22-year-old hails from Brisbane.

The Firebirds are a traditional powerhouse but missed the finals last season, while the Lightning, the new team on the block, went on to claim the season spoils.

Both teams started their 2018 campaigns with losses last weekend.

The Firebirds were edged by a goal, to the Swifts, while the Lightning were beaten by the Giants in a grand final replay.

"It's obviously not the result we wanted but we definitely had patches we were really proud of and there's definitely a lot we can take from that."

"We were down by eight or nine and came back to within three so that ability to bring the score back is great but obviously we want to be able to work on making sure we don't let it get to that stage."

McAuliffe played in 11 of 16 matches last year.

She earned the starting spot at wing defence for this year's opener against the Giants, after star midcourter Laura Langman left during the off-season.

She was moved to centre during the third quarter, when they trailed by a goal, with Erena Mikaere brought on to the court and Laura Scherian shifting off.



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