The West Coast Fever have developed into serious contenders for the 2020 title following their emphatic 72-52 victory over the Sunshine Coast Lightning.The Fever recovered from an early lapse to run out convincing winners at USC Stadium on Tuesday night and move to within one win of second spot on the ladder.
The West Australians crushed the Lightning by 24 points in their round-eight meeting and showed no mercy in the rematch, a 21-14 third quarter setting them on the path to completing the season sweep.
With three wins plus a draw against the Melbourne Vixens in their last four starts, West Coast have found form at the right time of the season with the most potent attacking game in the competition when in full flight.
Not even the loss of valuable midcourter Ingrid Colyer to a knee injury has halted their momentum, centre Verity Charles praising the work of Emma Cosh at wing attack.
“They’re totally different players but Cosh is doing a great job,” Charles said. “She’s running around there, really being a settler and probably doing a little more feeding.
“She looks for the long bombs so I just let her go and do her thing.”
After coughing up a 14 point advantage in their 63-63 draw with the Vixens in round 10, West Coast appeared to put any disappointment behind them by flying out of the blocks to lead 14-7.
But the Lightning suddenly clicked into gear to outscore the Fever 9-1 and close the first quarter ahead 16-15, two Steph Wood Suncorp Super Shots doing most of the damage.
The short break allowed West Coast to reset and the highest-scoring attack in the league took control in the second period, Jhaniele Fowler making all 16 shots and Alice Teague-Neeld bang on target from two-point range to lead 36-30 at halftime.
With Wood sitting out the third quarter, the Lightning struggled to break down the Fever defence with Fowler delivering another 15 goals without a miss to extend their lead to 51-41.
Lightning coach Kylee Byrne shuffled her lineup in the fourth quarter, opting to rest veteran centre Laura Langman, but it was to no avail as the Fever piled on another 21 goals to close out the win.
Q1: Lightning 16 v Fever 15
Q2: Lightning 13 v Fever 21
Q3: Lightning 11 v Fever 15
Q4: Lightning 11 v Fever 21
Nissan Player of The Match – Verity Charles (West Coast Fever)
Lightning shooting statistics
Cara Koenen: Total points – 29 G1 29/32 (91%) G2 0/1 (0%)
Steph Wood: Total points – 18 G1 12/14 (86%) G2 3/5 (60%)
Peace Proscovia: Total points – 5 G1 5/5 (100%) G2 0/0 (0%)
Fever shooting statistics
Jhaniele Fowler: Total points – 55 G1 55/58 (95%) G2 0/0 (0%)
Alice Teague-Neeld: Total points – 17 G1 9/12 (75%) G2 4/8 (50%)
Lightning starting seven: GS – Cara Koenen GA – Steph Wood WA – Laura Scherian C – Laura Langman WD – Maddy McAuliffe GD – Karla Pretorius GK – Phumza Maweni
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