By: Netball Australia

Off the back of suffering their first Super Netball loss of the season against the Melbourne Vixens last week, the West Coast Fever have secured a hard-fought victory (71-68) against the Sunshine Coast Lightning in a back-and-forth tussle at UniSC Arena.

Despite the Lightning winning time in possession, the Fever’s exceptional shooting accuracy (97%) and success with Super Shots (5/9) propelled them to victory in front of an enthusiastic away crowd. Fever were able to capitalise on turnovers, with an impressive 100% gain to goal rate compared to a disappointing 67% from the Lightning.

Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard stood out as the player of the match, amassing an impressive 119.5 Nissan Net Points and shooting at an astounding 98% (53/54) during regular match time. Her dominant presence under the post proved to be a formidable challenge for the Lightning, who found it difficult to contain her impact on the game, despite moments of brilliance from young gun Ash Ervin.

20-year-old Olivia Wilkinson showcased impressive skills in the GA position, demonstrating a promising performance that served as a launching pad for her burgeoning career. Injected in the third term, Wilkinson’s movement added a dynamic element to the Fever’s attack, providing the defenders with an additional challenge to contend with as she raked in 19.5 Nissan Net Points and shot at 100% with nine goal assists, seven centre pass receives, and 10 feeds.

Following the Fever’s disappointing loss to the Vixens in Round 7, which halted their six-game winning streak in a fierce 76-65 clash in Perth, the team in green were determined to bounce back. Meanwhile, the Lightning carried momentum from their continued return to form, securing a win against the Queensland Firebirds in their previous outing.

In front of an enthusiastic Sunshine Coast crowd, it came as no surprise that the contest was fiercely contested from the outset. The Lightning, buoyed by their recent string of consecutive wins, were eager to maintain their momentum and put on a display.

The Lightning were doing plenty right against the Fever, particularly in the attack end, finding their way to the post and executing clinical finishes.

A key reason for that was Leesa Mi Mi who delivered an impressive performance, amassing 81.5 Nissan Net Points, 21 goal assists, 43 feeds, and an intercept. Her lightning-fast speed rivalled Kelsey Browne.

But in defense, the in-form duo of Ervin and Tara Hinchliffe struggled to contain the relentless attacks of Fowler-Nembhard early on, who amassed an impressive 40 Nissan Net Points in the first quarter alone.


The battle between Steph Fretwell and Sunday Aryang unfolded as a tightly contested affair, with Aryang securing an intercept and a deflection while Fretwell tirelessly worked in the attacking third, converting five out of six shots with precision. Fretwell scored a Super Shot with two minutes to go in the first term to bring the scoreline back level, 16 a piece.

Mahalia Cassidy made a crucial interception off a long pass, allowing Koenen to secure a goal under the post just as the buzzer sounded, levelling the score at 18 a piece as the first quarter came to a close.

After the Lightning made a strong start to the second term, with an impressive intercept by Ervin, the Fever responded.

Making adjustments at quarter break, Ervin loomed as the danger in defence against Fowler-Nembhard in what turned out to be an up-and-down second quarter with the two teams trading momentum. The GK amassed 39.5 Nissan Net Points, with two intercepts and four deflections.

Cassidy was also stellar in defence for the home team, with an intercept and a deflection of her own in the WD position.


The Lightning were performing well from time in possession and forcing penalties, but found themselves handing the Fever opportunities at times. The Lightning held their biggest lead of the match (five goals) in the second term but Fever were able to claw it back in the final minutes.

Zoe Cransberg made impact in the C position, adding movement through the middle and opening options for the Fever.

In a crucial moment, the Lightning conceded three late goals, holding a narrow one goal lead heading into halftime (36-35).

The Fever surged in the third quarter, kick-started by a turnover off a Lightning centre pass and Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard’s precision conversion under the post. However, Cassidy swiftly countered for the Lightning, exemplifying the day’s trend of a relentless back-and-forth battle.

The Lightning’s box zone forced the ball back for the Fever, but they found their way around it with patient play.

Liz Watson, at her physical best was in everything– a strong hands over and impeccable timing proved pivotal, securing a crucial intercept that swiftly translated into a goal for Koenen and the Lightning.

The Fever found themselves thwarted in transition, grappling to move the ball forward under the relentless defensive pressure from the Lightning.

Wilkinson entered the game as GA with just over five minutes left on the clock in the thrid quarter, replacing Shanice Beckford who transitioned to the bench. Hinchliffe had to quickly adjust to Wilkinson’s presence, and her adaptation paid dividends as the Lightning swiftly gained possession.

Despite the pressure, Wilkinson remained unfazed, confidently nailing her first Super Shot attempt from distance, propelling Fever ahead by a single point. She followed up with another successful shot, extending their lead to three.

It was raining Super Shots – Fretwell nailed one followed by one from Fowler-Nembhard.

A crucial intercept by Cassidy, followed by some clinical work from Koenen, narrowed the gap for the Lightning to just two points. However, Fowler-Nembhad’s goal for the Fever stretched the away side’s lead to three (54-51) as the third term came to a close.

Fretwell endured a challenging fourth quarter with a 55% shooting average (5/9 attempts), as Aryang’s relentless defensive pressure took its toll.

After a near miss close to the post, Fever seized the opportunity to capitalise on the Lightning’s error, extending their lead to two points with a successful Fever centre pass.

Ervin continued to shine in her defensive battle against the towering Sunshine Girls shooter Fowler-Nembhard, leading the play with impeccable timing. Despite her valiant efforts, Ervin narrowly missed out on a few crucial plays, just falling short against the formidable opponent who was shooting with remarkable accuracy (98%).

Mi Mi was strong in C, sitting on similar numbers to teammate Liz Watson (21 assists and 38 feeds).


Cassidy’s near game-changing intercept had the crowd on the edge of their seats, her fingertips reaching for the ball, only to be met with Wilksinon forcing a contact.

A pivotal moment saw Fretwell miss a crucial Super Shot, but luck was on their side as they secured the throw-in, allowing Koenen to sink a vital one-pointer. With the pressure mounting, Ervin’s missed rebound from an uncharacteristic miss by Fowler-Nembhard left Ervin pleading with the umpire for a favourable call.

As Koenen hesitated before attempting a Super Shot, the Fever capitalised on their lead, methodically maneuvering down the court, and consuming precious seconds off the clock. With a three-goal advantage and only 20 seconds remaining, the Fever reclaimed their position at the top of the table with a hard-fought victory over the Lightning (71-68).

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