REPORT: FEVER TOO STRONG FOR PIES
The West Coast Fever have reaffirmed their Super Netball finals credentials with a comprehensive 70-57 victory over the Magpies at Margaret Court Arena on Saturday evening.
In what was a must-win for the Magpies' finals hopes, the Fever were too clinical, too strong defensively and star shooter Jhanielle Fowler was too dominant for Collingwood to press a serious claim.
There were stars all over the court for the visiting side, with Nat Medhurst (30 assists) and Verity Charles (24 assists) providing tremendous service to Fowler (62/66) while match MVP Courtney Bruce was a rock in defence with four intercepts and three rebounds.
The Magpies needed to start with urgency and did, with their ball movement opening up a 6-4 lead while their defensive pressure also forced a turnover off Jhanielle Fowler.
The early turnovers began to appear, and proved crucial, allowing the Fever to turn a two-goal deficit into a two-goal advantage.
It was a window that West Coast seized upon, with the Fever locking down defensively, forcing eight turnovers and closing out the quarter 16-11.
Collingwood coach Kristy Keppich-Birrell made her first change at the quarter-time break, calling on Alice Teague-Neeld into the goal attack position.
"Alice has been playing really well with our Tasmanian Magpies side and her ability to find space and make her defender accountable was really exciting," Keppich-Birrell said after the game.
"She's a young player and has so much promise for this club in the years ahead."
The Magpies brought pace and a direct attack to their ball movement in the second quarter, which allowed them to keep within reach of the Fever. Midway through the quarter Collingwood had outscored the Fever 8-7 for the term, prompting a West Coast timeout.
It was tough work for the Magpies, though, as every turnover or error was swiftly punished by a well-drilled Fever outfit that was soon back out in front by seven goals – a margin the visitors held until half-time.
The Magpies made another change to open the third quarter, replacing Ash Brazill with Shae Brown in wing defence.
Any hopes of that generating an immediate impact quickly vanished as the Fever stormed out on a 6-1 to open the quarter to gain complete control of the match.
The changes came thick and fast for the Magpies as they scrapped to avoid watching the match slide away. But it was the Fever who went into three-quarter time leading 53-40, leaving Collingwood with a mountain to climb.
The Magpies fought hard until the final whistle and denied the Fever a bonus point for the final quarter, but the result was already beyond doubt.
"This team really cares and we're disappointed that we're not performing at a high level in this competition," Keppich-Birrell said after her side's 13-goal loss.
"We're not where we want to be, but this club is a great club, and our players deeply care for each other and this team, but it's just not happening on the court for us.
"We're working on all of the technical and tactical stuff, but ultimately it comes down to a few mistakes there out on the court, and we know that it's costing us deeply."
Q1: Magpies 11 v Fever 16
Q2: Magpies 14 v Fever 16
Q3: Magpies 15 v Fever 21
Q4: Magpies 17 v Fever 17
Suncorp Super Netball premiership points
*No bonus point awarded for drawn third quarter
Magpies shooting statistics
Caitlin Thwaites 43/50
Erin Bell 3/6
Alice Teague-Neeld 11/13
Fever shooting statistics
Jhaniele Fowler 62/66
Nat Medhurst 8/8
Magpies starting seven
GS: Caitlin Thwaites, GA: Erin Bell, WA: Madi Robinson, C: Kim Ravaillion, WD: Ash Brazill, GD: April Brandley, GK: Matilda Garrett
Fever starting seven
GS: Jhaniele Fowler, GA: Nat Medhurst, WA: Ingrid Colyer, C: Verity Charles, WD: Jess Anstiss, GD: Stacey Francis, GK: Courtney Bruce
Match MVP: Courtney Bruce