West Coast Fever is sitting atop the Suncorp Super Netball table midway through round 12 following a tough 79-69 victory over Queensland Firebirds at Nissan Arena, Brisbane.
In a match-up where the sides play a similar game, both have strong shooters, a mid-court full of speed and defenders not afraid to go hard into a contest that was always going to be a tight contest.
Firebirds, who mounted continual comebacks but were unable to push past the three-goal buffer that was established by Fever early in the game, now face an uphill battle to play finals.
It was a stark contrast from the previous game between Magpies and Swifts, it was a very measured start from both sides with the first turnover not being committed until well over five minutes into the game.
In fact, in the first quarter Fever only committed two turnovers, both at the hands of goaler Alice Teague-Neeld.
The game was dominated by the attacking end of each team, as shown through the very high scoring end result.
Defenders had minimal chance to get themselves into the game, with Fever only managing six gains and Firebirds managing seven.
With towering Jamaican GSs at either end, it’s no wonder defenders struggled to stamp their authority on the game.
West Coast Fever coach Stacey Marinkovich, celebrating her 100th league match as coach in her final season before taking on Australia’s Diamonds fulltime, said the defensive end continued to work and helped her side take the eventual win.
“We’ve gotta make sure we’ve got the body position and the footwork to keep ourselves in the contest…Sunday Aryang is extremely good at getting around the body, she’s very elusive and she’s just got that instinctual sight for the ball,” she said.Stacey Marinkovich, West Coast Fever Head Coach
It was turnovers that hurt the Firebirds, committing four more than their opposition, and also at crucial moments.
Fever’s lead sat at five goals for the majority of the game, Firebirds managed several comebacks throughout but were unable to get any closer than that in the final quarter.
The introduction of Jemma MiMi to WA in the final quarter was a masterstroke from coach Megan Anderson, but she, unfortunately, went down with a suspected achilles injury and had to leave the court.
From there, Firebirds were unable to find the hustle they needed to draw back the lead, and despite a Super Shot from Romelda Aiken, they were stuck in chase position for too long.
This win pushes Fever temporarily into the top spot on the ladder after the Swifts lost their game earlier in the day, with Giants and Lightning both yet to play in Round 12.
Firebirds remain just outside the top four, and mathematically are still a chance at finals but with the confirmed ACL injury to starting GK Tara Hinchliffe, and likely achilles injury to MiMi, it would take a perfect storm to see them force their way into the top four.
Post match, Marinkovich was asked about the closeness for the game for the majority of the 60 minutes, and the lack of defensive impact throughout the game
“We had to be comfortable with [going goal for goal]. I think that’s the best game we’ve had in terms of level of comfort in going goal for goal. Defensively there was little gains, you had to take it through court so I was really pleased with our patience, getting ball and then sighting what was in front [of us]”
Header image courtesy of Queensland Firebirds.
Quotes courtesy of The Goal Circle Podcast.
Categories: Suncorp Super Netball