Entering this game, the West Coast Fever was coming off a loss, and the Sunshine Coast Lightning was coming off a win. Lightning had the momentum, but the Fever had the urgency to redeem themselves and bounce back with a win.
The game started relatively evenly, teams were goal for goal and the defensive pressure was present from both sides. Stopping Jhaniele Fowler was as difficult as expected and for the last six minutes of the quarter, it was her who created a buffer for her team with three goals before extending it finish the quarter up by eight.
The second quarter was much like the first, the pressure continue at both ends of the court and resulted in lots of turnovers, despite neither team quite being able to capitalise. It was high and energy and very fast paced so players welcomed the first tactical timeout of the game at the eight-minute mark of the second quarter.
Cara Koenen and Steph Wood were under immense pressure from Courtney Bruce and Sunday Aryang who used their strength and physicality to deny anything easy.
In the first half the Fever set the tone in the midcourt, dominating the play. Alice Teague-Neeld’s impact was huge for her team, her presence being felt across the full length of the court. The Fever built on their lead and finished the first half up by 13.
The Lightning team in the second half showed plenty of energy, starting very well with a quick three goals. The flow of the ball from the Lightning to their shooters, was already better than the first half and Koenen had a newfound confidence.
Their defensive pressure from Kadie-Ann Dehaney in the circle was high and despite not coming off, was important to building pressure and doubt in the mind of the goalers.
Struggling to stop Fowler’s impact, Dehaney is subbed out, Ashleigh Ervin in.
Wood found her form and got hot from the super shot, nailing three in a row to help her team narrow the margin.
Heading into the final stretch, Lightning faced a deficit of seven goals. They carried their momentum from the third period and managed to reduce the margin to five and the game was the closest it had been since the first quarter.
Unfortunately, the Lightning faced a blow when Shannon England went down with a suspected knee injury.
Despite a hard-fought battle, Lightning could not exploit off the power five and ultimately the Fever were too strong down the other end.