PIES PUSH PAST FEVER IN PRACTICE MATCH

Tiarne Swersky - 12 December, 2017

The Collingwood Magpies kicked off its 2018 pre-season campaign in fine fashion, proving too strong for the hometown West Coast Fever in its opening practice match.

Taking to the court as a team for the first time in over six months, the Magpies rallied past their opponents, claiming a 52-43 victory at the State Netball Centre in Perth.

As one of two practice matches between the two sides, the Fever made the stronger start, before new Magpie Erin Bell led the Magpies to a 15-14 buffer at the first break.

Bell, in her debut hit out with the club, started in goal attack, partnering with the 2017 league-leading goal scorer, Caitlin Thwaites, in the first half.

The pair relished in the Magpies' final third, feeding off the experienced duo of Madi Robinson and Shae Brown on the circle edge.

Brown rotated between centre and wing defence, with her elite endurance on display against her former side.

With a six-goal lead at the major break, Kim Ravaillion came on for her first pre-season minutes, with Alice Teague-Neeld replacing Bell and Brown moving over to wing defence.

After a standout season as a training partner, young defender Matilda Garrett showcased her potential in the goal keeping position, partnering April Brandley and Mary Livesey across the two halves for the Magpies.

The 19-year-old was spurred on by her teammates in her first game as a senior-listed Magpie, including fellow defender Sharni Layton, who willed the youngster on from the sidelines with strong words of encouragement.

As the final 15 minutes of the game winded down, the Magpies looked in little danger of giving up their established lead, as Brazill and Bell returned to the court.

An undermanned Fever squad battled hard throughout the contest, but with the absence of key players including goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler, they fell short at the final buzzer.

With a nine-goal victory, and a strong rotation of players, the Magpies’ coaching staff would’ve been pleased with its team’s first hit-out of pre-season.

The Magpies and Fever will line up for their second practice match at the State Netball Centre at 11am on Wednesday.