Despite the 47-38 win, the scoreboard was no reflection on the willing Lightning side that put up three more shots and took it right up to the second-placed Express.
Boroondara’s Sarah Main (11 from 12) was exceptional at goal attack in tandem with Emma Ryde (33 from 37) who leap-frogged the reliable Mikaela Vaughan (29 from 43) as the competition’s leading scorer.
The Falcons had to fight harder than in previous weeks to overcome a spirited Geelong Cougars side, winning 49-58.
The ladder leaders shot out of the blocks to put 16 goals on the board in the first quarter, but despite their best efforts, a dogged Cougars side couldn’t bridge a four-goal gap all game.
The Storm and Ariels played out one of the games of the year, with both sides unable to be separated at 48-all after 60 minutes of netball.
The Storm led by as much as eight in the second quarter, and five goals early in the last, before the Ariels roared home to take the lead. It took Storm goaler Janelle Lawson equaliser on the final play of the match to ensure both sides shared the points.
With a top four spot on offer, the Blaze used their early advantage set in the first quarter to hold on for a 43-41 win over the Waves.
Blaze mid-courters Bronwyn Taylor and Hillary Grubb controlled proceedings through the centre, while a consistent performance in the circle from Simone Nalder (28 from 35) assured the win.
The Saints stamped their authority as a genuine top four side with a commanding 63-33 win over the bottom placed Sovereigns.
However, the highlight of the night saw Sovereigns coach and former Australian Diamonds netballer Natasha Chokljat took the court in a goal defence bib. It would only stem the flow marginally, as the Saints were brutal in punishing repeat Sovereigns errors.
The Falcons reminded the competition yet again why they are a serious title threat, dismantling the Cougars in a 47-39 win.
The Cougars were in hot form early leading by six goals nearing the midway point of the second quarter, before Falcons defenders Steph O’Nial and Jacqueline Newton lifted their defensive intensity to kick start a Falcons revival that turned into a match-winning lead shortly after half time.
Monash Storm kept their top four hopes alive with an impressive 54-47 win over the Ariels.
Storm goaler Shae Gee led from the front with 24 goals from 32 attempts as the Ariels were left to rue concentration lapses after twice appearing to be capable of surging past the Storm in the final quarter.
The Saints gained some much-appreciated breathing space in top four, with a 53-33 win over the bottom-placed Sovereigns.
Saints goaler Chloe Curran (30 from 33) and centre, Tarryn Munro led a 16-9 second quarter charge to break the game open and hand the Saints their fourth win of the year.
A clinical second half from the Express saw them keep top spot in on the Division 1 ladder, easily accounting for the Lightning 49-28.
Still searching for their first win of 2015, the Lightning struggling to penetrate the scoring circle, as the Express feasted on their errors to keep a perfect 6-0 start to the season.
The Waves recovered from a slow start to topple the Blaze out of the top four with a 44-35 win.
With fourth spot on the line pre-game, the Waves were wasteful in the opening term before finding their groove with a defining 14-8 third term helping Peninsula to cruise to victory.
19 & Under
Hannah van Gemst demonstrated why she is competition’s best goaler at present; her 41 from 43 shooting performance ensuring the Cougars are the only undefeated team in the division.
The top of the table match-up lived up to expectations, but the Cougars, led in the middle by Briana Walters, would capitalise on the Falcons turnovers, orchestrating an entertaining 52-43 win.
The Ariels delivered one of the surprise results of the round, toppling the Storm in a 40-35 win.
Third-placed Monash started brightly enough, before Ariels defender Abbey Rutherford stepped up the pressure to lead her side’s fight back and confirm tight, tense five-goal win.
A win is a win, and the Lightning will take it in whatever form as they got their first premiership points of the year against the Express, 32-25.
In an error-riddled match from both sides, it took until the second half for the Lightning to find their tempo, with goaler Jacinta Savory (29 from 40) proving the difference in the breakthrough win.
The Sovereigns and the Saints played out the first draw of the 19 & Under competition, locking themselves together at 39-apiece.
Both sides traded leads frequently throughout the game. It came down to the Saints having the final possession but unable to get the final shot away in time to confirm the draw.
The Waves saw off the valiant Blaze fightback to keep touching distance with the top four, winning 40-36.
Leading by as much as eight in the early stages of the third quarter, the Blaze brought the game to within one goal through much of the last term. Cool in a crisis, Waves goaler Gabrielle Dwyer (30 from 41) guided her side to victory.