The West Coast Fever have continued their winning streak, yet to lose a quarter in their first two games, while the Sunshine Coast Lightning – tipped as premiers – were handed a humbling loss.

There was no love lost between Courtney Bruce and her old team, the Lightning’s new GK shooting out of the blocks and hunting from the get-go. Despite her best efforts, Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard was able to secure the first two goals for the Fever. After starting their attack with a turnover, the Lightning were finally on the board through Cara Koenen. There were early misses from both sides, indicating some nerves, but after trailing three nil to begin with, the Lightning were able to bring scores back to even. However, the moving circle combination of Koenen and Steph Fretwell struggled against the Fever’s defence, who didn’t seem to be missing the likes of Bruce. Koenen was subbed for Reilley Batcheldor, and the Lightning were able to take advantage of the Power Five, trailing by only three at the first break.

In the second quarter, the Fever remained in front, only building on their lead. Both teams’ midcourts appeared shakey at times, but whereas the Fever could afford it, it proved costly for the Lightning. Shanice Beckford was invaluable to the Fever, her cutting and drives drew players outside the circle, thus enabling Fowler-Nembhard to get free.

Shanice Beckford
Shanice Beckford looking to feed Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard.

At one end we had Fowler-Nembhard nailing a super shot, and down the other, a blow to the Lightning saw Fretwell going down and exiting the court with an ankle injury,

The Fever carried all the momentum from here on out, their pressure mounting, exemplified by Sunday Aryang flying out with an intercept and earning her team the ball by throwing it off Liz Watson. As a result, her team led at the main break by 11 goals.

After sitting out the first half of the third quarter, Fretwell was back on in the GS position, the idea being that she could be on for the Power Five section. Down the Fever’s goal end, it was Beckford winning the ball against Bruce that brought the crowd to their feet. That wasn’t all she was doing, her ability to find circles edge and ultimately get the ball to Fowler-Nembhard was key to her team’s success. While the Fever were content with scoring singles, the Lightning needed to score super shots and Fretwell did just that, but it wasn’t enough.

Courtney Bruce
Courtney Bruce wins ball and saves it from going out of bounds.

The Fourth quarter was do or die for the Lightning, and Bruce was giving it her all. She showed some tremendous efforts for the ball, but she wasn’t the only Lightning player fighting for a comeback – the connection between Liz Watson and Koenen was beautiful to watch.

Liz Watson
Liz Watson throws a bullet of a pass.

With ten minutes to go, Lightning coach, Belinda Reynolds called a tactical timeout and informed her team they needed to start gambling on plays to win ball and aim to bring the deficit to 10-12 goals ahead of the Power Five. Unfortunately for the Lightning, they managed to do the opposite, too many unforced errors and a congested shooting circle, saw the Fever continue to improve on their lead. It was Olivia Wilkinson and Fowler-Nembhard who were making super shots, the final margin being 25 goals.

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