HOT FEVER TOO STRONG FOR MAGPIES IN PERTH
The West Coast Fever have shown why they are among the Suncorp Super Netball title favourites with a strong 68-57 win over the Collingwood Magpies in Perth.
Again Jamaican superstar Jhaniele Fowler dominated, with 62 goals at 93% accuracy.
Collingwood didn't die wondering, throwing everything at the Fever defensively to try to prevent the ball entering the goal circle and into the waiting arms of Fowler, as well as trying to keep pace in attack.
The Magpies made changes early to their line-up to try and stem the Fever's momentum.
Magpies goal attack Erin Bell was subbed out for livewire Shae Brown in the second quarter, and then Australian Diamond centre Kim Ravaillion was replaced at half-time, with Brown moving to centre and Bell re-entering at goal attack.
Finally, 19-year-old rising star Matilda Garrett was called upon to make her Suncorp Super Netball debut in the final quarter.
However, the Fever seemed to have the Magpies' number, with Fowler proving impossible to stop and the Fever centre court able to pick her out with ease for most of the match.
Despite the 0-2 start to the Magpies season, Head Coach Kristy Keppich-Birrell said there were plenty of positives to have come out of the match with the Fever.
"The discipline of our players has been something that we've really been striving towards in the off-season," she said.
"So to see our penalty count down below the other team was a really good improvement for us. We're really proud of that."
The Fever went in with an unchanged line-up from last week's win over Adelaide, including Fowler and centre Verity Charles - a surprise inclusion, given she was carried from the court last week with a serious ankle injury - while the Magpies rolled out all their Diamonds stars.
The Magpies opened up an early 3-0 advantage, but it didn't take long for Fowler to find her radar and the scores were quickly locked up 5-5.
At quarter-time it was the Fever with their noses in front, taking the bonus point with a slender 15-14 lead.
In the second quarter West Coast began to gain the ascendancy, forcing a Collingwood time out.
Magpies goal keeper Sharni Layton gave away 11cm to Fowler and couldn't quell the Jamaican as the home side pushed their advantage out to seven goals.
By half-time Fowler had 31 goals and the Fever had the game well in control with a 34-26 lead.
Needing to stop the supply to the Fever circle in the third quarter, the Magpies made the Ravaillion-Brown change and managed to peg three goals back through defensive pressure and a vintage intercept from Layton.
The Magpies won the quarter and the bonus point that came with it, setting up a big finish as they only trailed 51-45 at the final change.
But Fever goal defence Stacey Francis came up huge for the Fever in the last quarter, with two rejected shots allowing the home side to push the lead out to 10.
The Magpies made one last gamble, introducing Garrett for her Super Netball debut, but the Fever were unable to be headed enjoyed a comfortable win and three handy bonus points.
Official Result: West Coast Fever 68 defeated Adelaide Thunderbirds 57
Fever shooting statistics
Jhaniele Fowler 62/67 (93%)
Nat Medhurst 6/7 (86%)
Magpies shooting statistics
Caitlin Thwaites 39/45 (87%)
Erin Bell 17/27 (63%)
Shae Brown 1/2 (50%)
Fever starting seven - GS: Jhaniele Fowler, GA: Nat Medhurst, WA: Ingrid Colyer, C: Verity Charles, WD: Jessica Anstiss, GD: Stacey Francis, GK: Courtney Bruce
Magpies starting seven - GS: Caitlin Thwaites, GA: Erin Bell, WA: Madi Robinson, C: Kim Ravaillion, WD: Ashleigh Brazill, GD: April Brandley, GK: Sharni Layton