Fever return to winning ways

A FIRST half stunner by the West Coast Fever see them back on the winners list after defeating the Sunshine Coast Lightning by 10 goals.

The Fever sit pretty on the top of the table with the Lightning just falling short of the top four after the Melbourne Vixens win last night over the Queensland Firebirds. A hungry win for the Fever was clear with the tight defence all through the court saw them take a win home to Perth, 64 – 74.

The Fever scored eight out of 10 goals in the first term that helped them in that quarter convincingly off the hand of a sneaky tip from Courtney Bruce at the transverse line, heavily shifting her team’s momentum. The magical hands of Jhaniele Fowler slotted 65 goals straight, most going straight through the net.

Bruce (five deflections, four gains and one intercept) entered this game knowing exactly what she had to do to inform Cara Koenen (34 goals), and that was to close off the baseline and work with teammate Sunday Aryang (five deflections, two gains and one intercept) to shut down the shooter to shooter connection between Koenen and Steph Wood (30). The workrate of Bruce and Aryang did not let the dish offs from Wood to Koenen to happen.

The tight one on one defence from Bruce was great in tracking Koenen outside of the circle, putting great hands over pressure on the pass and blocking Koenen out of the circle. It is notable that when Koenen does not get the second phase receive but makes the drive to get the ball, she struggles to get back inside the circle and under the post.

After a very quiet game last week, Alice Teague-Neeld had a point to prove and she well and truly achieved her goal in this game. A stunning game for her featured 92.5 Net Points, 37 feeds, 33 goal assists, and 30 centre pass receives. The centre pass receives is really important as the next two Fever players had nine.

The shift in the Lightning’s midcourt in the third quarter was just what they needed. Coach Belinda Reynolds wanted the midcourters to win the ball everywhere, wanting the midcourt to be defensive heavy which paid off with them getting gains in every third.

A fantastic attacking quarter for the Lightning saw them use their fakes to draw the Fever defenders out and open up a teammate who was free. This worked well with Koenen getting a double play with Laura Scherian while entering the circle, as her fake drew Bruce outside of the circle to try and get an intercept, but it left Koenen all alone on the baseline.

Scherian (99.5 Net Points, 37 feeds and 23 goal assists) had a blinder, getting depth on second phase while still hitting circle edge and feeding her shooters. This led to player of the match Jessica Anstiss being moved forward into centre to put more defensive pressure onto Scherian who was able to run into any space she wanted.

There was an unfortunate event for Lightning permanent replacement player and former Fever player Shannon Eagland as she went down early in the last quarter with a suspected ACL injury in her right knee. She is no stranger to major injuries, previously rupturing her ACL in her left knee in 2017 whilst playing for her home side the Vixens.

The Fever defence was clean and clinical, but it was their constant grind and tight defence on their direct players that tired out the Lightning as well as confusing space in the shooting circle. The Lightning pegged the lead back to as much as five early in the fourth quarter, but the Fever’s ability to score off of 91 percent of their centre passes was unstoppable.

SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 13 | 13 | 24 | 14 (64)
WEST COAST FEVER         21 | 18 | 18 | 17 (74)


Sunshine Coast Lightning

GS: Cara Koenen

GA: Steph Wood

WA: Annie Miller

C: Laura Scherian

WD: Mahalia Cassidy

GD: Karla Pretorius

GK: Kadie-Ann Dehaney

West Coast Fever

GS: Jhaniele Fowler

GA: Sasha Glasgow

WA: Alice Teague-Neeld

C: Verity Simmons

WD: Jess Anstiss

GD: Sunday Aryang

GK: Courtney Bruce

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