The returning Courtney Bruce has helped West Coast Fever to a thrilling 63-62 win against the Collingwood Magpies at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena.
Bruce, who has overcome a back injury, produced a handful of match turning touches to guarantee a winning 100-game milestone for teammate Verity Charles in the clash with the desperate Magpies.
In a frantic finish, Magpies goal attack Gabrielle Sinclair had a chance to level the scores with a Suncorp Super Shot inside the last minute but, despite being lethal from any range during the game, was unable to deliver a levelling goal.
“As a defensive unit we knew we could win ball and we had to win ball,” Fever skipper Bruce said. “I thrive off those moments. I want to be a game changer.”
The victory consolidated the Fever’s place in the top four while the Magpies are sixth, before the remainder of matches in round four.
West Coast’s underrated midcourt of Verity Charles, Ingrid Colyer and Jess Anstiss set up the win with a big first half while shooter Jhaniele Fowler shot 54 goals at 98 per cent accuracy.
Collingwood coach Rob Wright said his side’s chances should not have come down to Sinclair’s long range effort at the death.
“It doesn’t come down to that last shot. At the end of the day our start caused us real problems,” he said.
The one constant for Wright was the impact of goal shooter Shimona Nelson – who did not miss for most of the first half and was near unstoppable on her way to 45 goals.
There were worrying signs as early as the opening minutes of the first quarter for the Magpies.
They were unable to make use of Nelson’s reliability under the ring, with starting goal attack Sinclair failing to deliver clean service.
The opposite was true for the Fever’s creative duo Alice Teague-Neeld and Colyer, whose combined work rate and vision picked apart Collingwood’s defence.
Collingwood’s prospects only marginally improved in the second quarter when Nelson and Sinclair shot their side to within five goals of their opponents. While Nelson provided the bulk of the scoring, the Magpies’ fortunes pivoted on Sinclair. When she was sparkling, as she was in the third term, Wright’s team looked a far more potent outfit.
Q1: Magpies 11 v Fever 21
Q2: Magpies 18 v Fever 16
Q3: Magpies 18 v Fever 14
Q4: Magpies 15 v Fever 12
Nissan Player of The Match – Madi Browne (Collingwood Magpies)
Magpies shooting statistics
Shimona Nelson: Total points – 47 G1 – 45/48 (94%) G2 – 1/1 (100%)
Gabby Sinclair: Total points – 15 G1 – 9/11 (82%) G2 – 3/5 (60%)
Nyah Allen: Total points – 0 G1 – 0/0 (0%) G2 – 0/1 (0%)
Fever shooting statistics
Jhaniele Fowler: Total points – 55 G1 – 53/54 (98%) G2 – 1/2 (50%)
Alice Teague-Neeld: Total points – 4 G1 – 4/7 (57%) G2 – 0/5 (0%)
Kaylia Stanton: Total points – 4 G1 – 0/2 (0%) G2 – 2/2 (100%)
Magpies starting seven: GS – Shimona Nelson GA – Gabby Sinclair WA – Kelsey Browne C – Molly Jovic WD – Mel Bragg GD – Jodi-Ann Ward GK – Geva Mentor
Fever starting seven: GS – Jhaniele Fowler GA – Alice Teague-Neeld WA – Ingrid Colyer C – Verity Charles WD – Jess Anstiss GD – Stacey Francis GK – Olivia Lewis