Fans and commentators are up in arms after Giants defender Kristiana Manu'a was sent off for rough play as the Sunshine Coast Lightning stormed home to claim a controversial 58-57 Super Netball victory on Wednesday night.
The Giants held a 52-45 lead five minutes into the fourth quarter at USC Stadium, however it all came undone when Manu'a was given her marching orders after being called for a second act of rough play.
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The Giants were forced to complete the match with just six players, the Lightning outscoring them 13-5 to snatch victory.
The Lightning survived two unsuccessful super shot attempts by Jo Harten in the dying seconds to hold on.
However the talk of the netball world after the match was Manu’a’s send-off.
Having been warned for dangerous play earlier in the match, Manu'a was suspended for two minutes in the third period after a rough clash with Lightning goal shooter Cara Koenen.
The Giants still managed to win the quarter 18-11 and looked set to hold on for their second win of the season.
They held a seven-goal lead in the final term until Manu'a committed another rough challenge, this time on Lightning’s Laura Scherian, to prematurely end her night.
Netball world erupts over ‘disgraceful’ decision
TV commentators described the send-off as “disgraceful”, suggesting Manu’a only had eyes for the ball and hadn’t done anything deliberately rough.
“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,” 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.”
Cath Cox agreed, adding: “We were all dumbfounded because it’s not happened before in a game, let alone happen twice - and the end result is a complete shift because of what happened.
“One hundred per cent there was nothing wrong with either of those contests. She was going for the ball and she’s not that kind of player.”
Harten was also fuming in her post-match interview, saying she’d never seen anything like it in professional netball.
“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.”
Lightning captain Laura Langman described it as an “unfortunate way to finish”.
“It was definitely interesting, I don’t think we wanted to finish the game like that,” the Kiwi 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 uproar was also strong on social media, with a number of players among those expressing their shock.
The time Manu'a gets sent off and it's for that.. LOL. Don't get me wrong I love she's been sent off but jesus she does that game in game out each and every game. Big call.. #SSNLightningGiants— Coco (@ChanelleMGale) August 19, 2020
Kristiana Manu’a was unfairly sent off twice! The result was a loss by the better side. That will, wrongly, weigh heavily upon Kristiana. And the SSN twitter account celebrates it. Apologies are in order.— monteret (@monteret) August 19, 2020
Former Aussie cricketer Trent Copeland, husband of netball great Kim Green, described it as “ridiculous” and a “disgrace.”
ARE YOU SERIOUS. Sent for the whole game?!— Trent Copeland (@copes9) August 19, 2020
Ridiculous. Cant wait for the replays to be watched & the apology... Bit like a timing mistake I seem to recall last year? 🤷🏽♂️🙈 @9Netball @GIANTS_Netball #SSNLightningGiants
I absolutely LOVE watching @SuperNetball & have done for a long time.— Trent Copeland (@copes9) August 19, 2020
But that, tonight was a disgrace. The difference between competition points won and lost.
NOT ok. Don’t even know when the game is over.
Can’t wait for the response... @9Netball #SSNLightningGiants
Heartbreaking loss for GWS Giants
The result sees the Lightning join the Melbourne Vixens and NSW Swifts on four wins while the Giants remain in sixth spot, still seeking their second victory for the season.
Goal shooter Koenen went a perfect 10-for-10 in the opening quarter as the Lightning grabbed a narrow 16-15 lead, Giants midcourter Jamie-Lee Price spending some time on the bench after a heavy collision with teammate Maddie Hay.
But with Price back in the action and Kiera Austin shifting into attack, the Giants managed to edge ahead 31-30 at halftime.
The Giants will attempt to bounce back against ladder leaders Melbourne Vixens at USC Stadium on Sunday, to be followed by the Lightning against the in-form Adelaide Thunderbirds.