The West Coast Fever have chilled the Firebirds’ final hopes with a 10 goal victory, all but securing their own place in the top four.
Playing on Tuesday evening due to the condensed fixture, the Fever started well through Verity Charles’ work in the mid-court and took a five-goal lead into quarter time.
The Firebirds worked hard to even things up in the second and third quarters, putting immense pressure on the ball carrier and transitioning well to convert from turnover.
After a quieter third quarter, the Fever turned their game back on in the fourth and Charles regained her power in the mid-court. The team stretched out to a 10 goal victory.
Jhaniele Fowler dominated again in goal shooter, with 64 goals, and showed her strength on the feed into the circle.
Speaking after the match, Stacey Marinkovich was pleased with her side’s work rate and pressure.
“I thought the girls really absorbed the grind out on court and I think their execution and persistence paid off,” Marinkovich said.
She was particularly pleased with her defenders and their ability to get around the body for clean deflections and intercepts. The Fever had 37 penalties, compared to the Firebirds’ 68, while they collectively took four intercepts and made 15 deflections.
“There has been a focus for us, just with our defenders and the repeated footwork and getting around the body.
“We want to be able to contest the ball, but we need to do it cleanly to accumulate that pressure over a game.
“I thought the repeated effort and the positioning that we started in, I think, gives them the greatest view of the ball, and then we were able to get some great ball in good moments,” she said.
It was a heated match, which was to be expected between these two teams who have high work rates and physically contest the ball.
The Firebirds played a very strong ball-carrier defence, which put the Fever under a great deal of pressure when attacking, particularly in the third quarter.
Marinkovich thought her team did well to combat the style of defence the Firebirds played.
“You’ve got to be patient to look at the options that present and the options that open.
“They were doubling back on J [Jess Anstiss] and isolating the ball carrier to defend the circle and defend our goal attack.
“Their midcourt has a very high work rate and certainly like to contest and confuse space. For us, we need to keep our angles, but we’ve got to keep our work rate on to take the people that are off the body.
However, she sees room to improve in adapting to this ball-centred approach that may be used on the Fever in the future.
“It’s something that we’ll definitely get good vision of, understanding what it looks like and how to keep breaking it down,” she said.
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Sasha Glasgow returned to the court, after missing the win over the Melbourne Vixens.
Marinkovich said she is “going really well” and it was a decision based on the uncertainty of the season’s revised structure.
“She’s had a bit of a niggle, we just needed to monitor that.
“We didn’t know what the draw was going to be and coming over on that flight, we just wanted to make sure we’d given her enough rest time so we can have her for the rest of the season.
“She’s doing all the right things and the medical staff are doing their job and I think when you saw her out on court, there’s certainly no limitation in the way she can play.
West Coast returns to the court on Tuesday against the Collingwood Magpies.
Marinkovich said while the week is unusual, they are a resilient group who will focus on key things ahead of the match.
“The girls will have the day off tomorrow and we’ll do our review and recovery.
“I think, obviously, we came off the Vixens game coming into this one, and the girls are very resilient.
“They’ve trained a lot, so a lot of it is just fine-tuning.
“You don’t have to spend a lot of time in the training environment, just have to make sure it’s purposeful and that’s exactly what we’ll do,” she said.
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