Fever return to Super Netball winner's list
Jhaniele Fowler has reached another Super Netball shooting milestone to help West Coast Fever defeat Sunshine Coast Lightning 74-64 and consolidate top spot on the ladder at the midway point of the season.
Fowler recorded her 5000th goal attempt late in the fourth quarter of Sunday's clash at UniSC Arena before finishing with 65 goals at 100 per cent accuracy as West Coast secured their sixth win of the campaign.
Stinging from last Sunday's dramatic one-goal defeat to the Adelaide Thunderbirds - the Fever's first loss since round 12 of last season - the defending premiers dominated the opening half to lead by 13 goals, before the home side hit back by piling on 24 in the third quarter.
But the Fever regained control of the contest in the final quarter to return to the winners' list ahead of a crucial away match-up with 2022 grand final opponents Melbourne Vixens.
"I think that's probably what's most pleasing, I thought (Sunshine Coast) really came at us hard in the last five minutes of the third (quarter) heading into three-quarter time," Fever coach Dan Ryan said after the win.
"Just our ability to endure that a little bit when the crowd was getting up and about was really important for us and I think when you get a 10-goal win in Super Netball, it's a great result, and it was really hard-fought.".
National team coach Stacey Marinkovich was in attendance to keep a close eye on the Lightning's goal circle, where Steph Wood and Cara Koenen battled Fever defenders Courtney Bruce and Sunday Aryang.
All four were recently named in the Australian Diamonds squad and will compete for spots in the team headed for this year's Netball World Cup in Cape Town.
But Marinkovich would have been impressed with the performance of Fever wing attack Alice Teague-Neeld as the league leader for goal assists added another 33 to her tally from 37 circle feeds.
A run of five straight goals from Fowler late in the first quarter helped the Fever build a 21-13 cushion, with the reigning champions committing just one turnover in the first 15 minutes.
The errors began to flow from both sides in the second period but West Coast played with greater efficiency to extend their advantage to 39-26 at the main break.
The Lightning showed plenty of fight to start the second half and a late burst of four Super shots from Wood helped close the margin to 57-50 after three quarters.
But the home side could draw no closer than five goals in the final period as West Coast denied Lightning coach Belinda Reynolds, a former assistant with the Fever, a victory in her first meeting against her former club.