MAGPIES CLINCH FINALS BERTH

Tiarne Swersky - May 20, 2017

The Collingwood Magpies have booked its spot in the Super Suncorp Netball (SSN) finals after earning a hard-fought 49-42 victory over the West Coast Fever at Perth Arena on Saturday evening. 

Star shooter Caitlin Thwaites was unbeatable in the final third for the Magpies, breaking a career-record on her way to 45 goals from 49 attempts at 92 per cent efficiency. 

The 30-year-old notched her 555th goal of the season, breaking her previous career best of 537/605 from 17 games in 2016.

“Caitlin – as always – was amazing. She’s just a rock under that ring. She was double teamed, whacked and pushed and just stood up again and again,” Magpies coach Kristy Keppich-Birrell said post-game.

Both teams struggled to settle in to the contest, with an error-riddled first quarter leaving both sides with 12 goals a piece after 15 minutes.

The Magpies then flexed their muscles in the second quarter, surging ahead with a 16-7 dominant period over the Fever.

But it was the home side that came out stronger after the long break. With a passionate Western Australian crowd behind them, the Fever rallied back from a seven-goal deficit to level the scores midway through the third quarter.

“The reason we got back into the game was because we lifted our defensive pressure. We created some key turnovers. We applied pressure all over the court.”

“We were able to capitalise on the turnovers in key moments which is an area we have been working on. But in other times we didn’t, which is when we let them get back into the game.”

With the momentum firmly on the Fever’s side, Keppich-Birrell called for a tactical time out, inserting her secret weapon over the past two weeks – mid courter Shae Brown.

Brown came in for shooter Alice Teague-Neeld at GA, forming an unlikely partnership with an already firing Thwaites.

In only 25 minutes of action, Brown once again provided to be the spark the Magpies needed off the bench.

“I thought Shae made a great impact when coming onto the court tonight. Alice played her role and had beautiful movement out there but then Shae was able to come on and show what she can offer in that position as well.”

The former Fever mid courter had her hands in everything when the contest was up for grabs, collecting two interceptions, one deflection, three circle feeds, one goal assist as well as shooting four goals at 67 per cent.

It was a Brown conversion in goals with only three minutes to play that would sink the Fever's hopes of victory.

Sharni Layton and April Brandley were dialled in defensively in a quick-paced game, troubling the Fever’s Nat Medhurt (18/23) and Kate Beveridge (24/31) in the defensive third.

Layton was immense in the second half with eight deflections, three interceptions and three defensive rebounds.

Former Fever captain Ash Brazill continued to stake her claim for a Diamonds call-up as she minimised her opponent’s impact and claimed two interceptions and six deflections herself.

“Ash had a really good crack at a number of balls, but I know she would have loved to have got a few more intercepts tonight. She put the pressure on that mid court. Her and Kim Ravaillion had to fight to get over the transverse line.”

Magpie captain Madi Robinson was once again the general her team needed, steadying the ship in a frantic second half, as well as recording 13 goal assists, 39 circle feeds and 16 centre pass receives.

The win over the Fever secures the Magpies fourth spot on the ladder and books them a place in the SSN finals.

“It was up and down tonight. There are going to be games like that in the finals so this was the best preparation for us. We know that we can fight back. We know that we can push forward. It’s about exploring all of our options.”

“I think the team have really earned that spot. It’s been a journey for our team all season to cement that spot in the final four and they’ve done that which is a tick off the list but we now know it’s a whole new ball game when we start our finals campaign.

The Magpies travel to Adelaide next Sunday afternoon to meet the Thunderbirds in the final game of the season.

Keep an eye out for who they will meet in the first round of the finals in two weeks time, as it all plays out over the next week.

Official Result & Statistics

Official Result: Magpies Netball Club (49) defeated West Coast Fever (42)

Fever shooting statistics

Kate Beveridge 24/31 (77%)
Natalie Medhurst 18/23 (71%)

Magpies shooting statistics
Caitlin Thwaites 45/48 (94%)
Alice Teague-Neeld 0/1 (0%)
Shae Brown 4/6 (67%)

Fever starting seven - GS: Kate Beveridge, GA: Natalie Medhurst, WA: Ingrid Colyer, C: Verity Charles, WD: Jessica Anstiss, GD: Stacey Francis, GK: Courtney Bruce

Magpies starting seven – GS: Caitlin Thwaites, GA: Alice Teague-Neeld, WA: Madi Robinson, C: Kim Ravaillion, WD: Ash Brazill, GD: April Bradley, GK: Sharni Layton

Match MVP: Caitlin Thwaites (Magpies)