The sun has set on the GIANTS’ finals hopes as the expansion side fell 71-66 to West Coast Fever in Cairns.
Fever coach Stacey Marinkovich underlined why she was selected to coach the national side, pulling all the right strings to spark a second half fightback and keep alive the club’s chances of a top-two finish.
Marinkovich turned to understudies goal attack Kaylia Stanton and defender Olivia Lewis and the pair justified the coach’s faith with fine cameos.
The changes enabled Courtney Bruce to go hunting at goal defence and she revelled with 10 gains to inspire her teammates.
Both teams had much to gain. To snatch second spot, the Fever need to win each of their last two games and rely on the
Lightning to fall to the Vixens in the final round.
That finals thread was even thinner for the GIANTS who had no lifelines remaining and may rue not giving Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett more court time throughout the season.
The same could not be said of Fever shooter Jhaniele Fowler who is the season’s most prolific scorer and added another 62 goals to her tally on Saturday.
The difference in styles could not have been more distinctive.
Fever goal attack Alice Teague-Neeld worked feverishly as a link player but did not have a goal to her name at halftime.
The GIANTS shared the attacking load more evenly, with moving goalers Jo Harten and Kiera Austin contributing equally in the circle.
With more options in attack, GIANTS midcourters Jamie-Lee Price and Maddie Hay made every pass count and did not offer a turnover between them for almost three quarters.
But the contest turned in an instant when Fever defender Lewis flew for a third-quarter intercept, catching Hay in a tangle of legs.
A twisted right ankle forced Hay from the court and she could only watch as what had been a five-goal GIANTS lead became a three-goal deficit at the final change.
The Giants never recovered, with Harten (29/38) and Austin (28/43) unable to maintain their influence.
Q1: Fever 15 v GIANTS 17
Q2: Fever 17 v GIANTS 18
Q3: Fever 21 v GIANTS 15
Q4: Fever 18 v GIANTS 16
Nissan Player of The Match – Verity Charles (West Coast Fever)
Fever shooting statistics
Jhaniele Fowler: Total points 64 – G1 62/65 (95%) G2 1/1 (100%)
Kaylia Stanton: Total points 7 – G1 3/4 (75%) G2 2/6 (33%)
Alice Teague-Neeld: Total points 0 – G2 0/1 (0%)
GIANTS shooting statistics
Kiera Austin: Total points 32 – G1 24/35 (69%) G2 4/8 (50%)
Jo Harten: Total points 34 – G1 24/28 (86%) G2 5/10 (50%)
Fever starting seven: GS – Jhaniele Fowler GA – Alice Teague-Neeld WA – Emma Cosh C – Verity Charles WD – Jess Anstiss GD – Stacey Francis GK – Courtney Bruce
GIANTS starting seven: GS – Jo Harten GA – Kiera Austin WA- Maddie Hay C – Jamie-Lee Price WD – Amy Parmenter GD – Kristiana Manu’a GK – Sam Poolman