West Coast Fever have reclaimed top spot on the Super Netball ladder after capitalizing on the Melbourne Vixens’ shock loss to Sunshine Coast.
- The Fever sits atop the Super Netball ladder after defeating the NSW Swifts 76-58
- Courtney Bruce leads the competition for deflections and defensive rebounds
- In the upset of the season, the Melbourne Vixens lost to the Sunshine Coast
At home at Perth Arena, the Fever scored their fourth win of the season over the NSW Swifts, triumphing 76-58.
In commentary in the lead-up to the game, national selector Anne Sargeant challenged Fever captain Courtney Bruce to be cleaner, stay “disciplined” and “off the body”.
The Diamonds’ goal keeper responded in a tense first half with six gains – including four intercepts – despite giving away a number of penalties.
She finished with 13 possessions, pocketing rebounds and stray passes on her way to a player-of-the-match award.
After five rounds, Bruce leads the competition in deflections – with 29 – and is equal first for defensive rebounds (20) with Adelaide’s Shamera Sterling.
“We definitely needed to respond from Tuesday night’s [loss]”Bruce said.
“It felt really good out there but, to be honest, I do not know if I’m deserving of [player of the match].
“Sunday Aryang had a phenomenal game and she makes me look really good at times.”
Despite the loss, Swifts goal shooter Helen Housby had a stunning game, sinking a record-equalling 10 two-point super shots on her way to a haul of 39 points.
It was a contest worthy of a tournament final and Housby’s seven-from-seven two-point super shots kept her side in the contest in the first half.
Jhaniele Fowler (62 points) enjoyed two rare, two-point successes of her own, helping her side to the 18-point win.
Vixens stunned in ‘upset of the season’
The Fever’s win catapulted them to top spot after the Sunshine Coast Lightning recorded an inspired 71-58 win over the Melbourne Vixens on Saturday.
The Lightning went into the clash with the previously undefeated Vixens having conceded the most goals through the opening four rounds.
Nonetheless, they managed to restrict Melbourne’s attack to just 13 goals in the second quarter, with the Vixens finishing the game with a low 33 per cent gains to goals rate.
“We’ve been waiting for a performance like that defensively for the first four games and I knew it was in them but it was just about building pressure,” coach Kylee Byrne told Fox Netball after the game.
Diamonds’ goal attack Steph Wood was influential in the third quarter, nailing four super shots and providing seven goal assists, while Maddie Hinchliffe and Laura Sherian were outstanding in the mid-court.
“We have not had the best start to the season and we have not been happy about it. I think it just shows we can play netball,” Wood said.
“That’s the performance we know we can do and, when you put that out against a really quality side against Vixens, yeah there’s going to be some belief in this team.”
The visitors led 18-16 after the first quarter but the Lightning turned up the heat in the second period to force Melbourne into a series of uncharacteristic errors, including nine turnovers for the half, to hit the front by two at half-time.
Coach Simone McKinnis made a series of line-up changes throughout the second half in search of a winning combination, introducing second-year mid-courter Hannah Mundy to work alongside stalwarts Kate Moloney and Liz Watson.
The Vixens, however, had no answer for the Lightning, in part due to ill-discipline – conceding a total of 81 penalties – and an inability to maintain possession.
Co-captain Watson was also uncharacteristically quiet, ending the night with 27 feeds despite an average of 39 a game.
The Vixens return to Melbourne for a stretch of three consecutive home games, while the Lightning now face reigning champions, the Swifts, in Sydney.
AAP / ABC sport