For the West Coast Fever, this season was all about one thing, winning that final game of the year. The team had made Grand finals in the past, but had never tasted glory. This season they were adamant to break the drought.
At the beginning of the season, many had the West Coast Fever finishing in the top four. They rewarded the faith finishing 10-4 at the end of the home and away season.
West Coast started the year strong before a couple of slip ups mid-year. They managed to recover and after a strong final four rounds, the Fever finished in second position behind their Grand Final foes, the Melbourne Vixens.
The Inner Sanctum explores the Fever’s 2022 Super Netball season, in review.
West Coast Fever head coach Dan Ryan moved the magnets around in season 2022. Alice Teague-Neeld was a beneficiary, predominately playing the wing attack position where she thrived all season long.
This positional change allowed the Fever to utilise two-point-shot threat Sasha Glasgow as the consistent goal attack alongside the best goal shooter in the world, Jhaniele Fowler.
The combination of these three really opened up the court, which allowed the other midcourters in Verity Simmons and Jess Anstiss to thrive in their roles.
The main defensive combination which proved most effective for the Fever was Sunday Aryang and Courtney Bruce. They were instrumental in winning ball back against some of the great attackers in the competition.
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Even in a premiership-winning year, there are still aspects of the Fever’s game to be worked on in the off-season.
During this season within games, when the Fever got backed into a corner it was very difficult for them to get out. The conundrum with the Fever’s attacking circle is that having a star like Fowler in the line-up makes their gameplan in the front half very Fowler-centric.
In some games, the Fever would get stuck in the mid court because they were worried about the next pass into Fowler. Then in turn, turn the ball over thus not rewarding their work up the court.
Once the Fever managed to get through this, they were able to play freely and get the ball into their shooter who shot most of their goals this season.
Winning the premiership is a huge highlight and it was their biggest highlight of the year, being their first in club history.
The modern day rivalry between the Fever and the Vixens, is one that continues to grow and with the teams not changing too much will be very entertaining in the years to come.
During the regular season, the Vixens had the measure of the Fever, but when it came to finals the Fever went to another level, which then grew in the Grand Final.
The Fever took home their first premiership in style with a convincing 70-59 win over the Melbourne Vixens. Fowler starred for the home team with 58/59.
However, it was her partner in crime, Sasha Glasgow, who took home ‘Player of the Match’ with 4/4 and 4/9 from the two point range.
She had a stunning performance in this game, collecting a massive 26 assists in the process, to prove Dan Ryan’s coaching move from the beginning of the year was the correct one.
In a successful season, it can be difficult to find fault with a premiership team. However it can be argued that the Fever did not invest a lot of game time in their bench options. Apart from club stalwart Stacey Francis-Bayman, the Fever rarely used the likes of Emma Cosh and Rudi Ellis because the quality and versatility of the starting seven didn’t require changing.
In the SSN, teams can become vulnerable if they have players out due to injury or illness throughout the season. With the squad being relatively the same, the Fever should look to find a way to incorporate these players in more next season.
When you have arguably the best player in the world on your team, it’s really hard to go past her for Most Valuable Player award. Jhaniele Fowler again, was next to unstoppable in season 2022.
Fowler makes her hard job look easy, reeling in rebounds and shooting goals, however she comes up against the best goal keepers in the world, who are constantly trying new things and trying to get better to be able to play her well.
Fowler led the league in offensive rebounds (46) and goals (804) which displays the dominance she has in the circle and the accuracy she has in front of goal.
Her ability to adapt to the different types of players that she comes up against, is second to none and she has to be given credit for that.
Fever’s young defender Aryang has become a revelation over the last few seasons alongside her captain and mentor in Bruce.
Her versatility is some of the best in the competition and only at a young age, that is certainly a dangerous prospect for any attackers in the near future.
Aryang has the ability to float between all defensive positions, which is a luxury for coach Dan Ryan. He can use her as a moving piece or to match-up depending on the opposition.
Aryang’s form didn’t go unnoticed, as she has been selected as Australian Diamond for the last two tournaments they’ve played in.
All Fever fans should be very excited about what she can produce, moving forward into the 2023 Suncorp Super Netball season.
For the Fever, there won’t be too much change to the current squad moving forward into 2023.
Before the recent Commonwealth Games, it was made known that Francis-Bayman would be retiring from all forms of netball after the games.
To fill this list spot, the Fever went with experience, adding extra depth to their defence by signing former Queensland Firebird Kim Jenner.
Jenner was a great get, knocking back a contact offer from the Firebirds to accept the offer from the Fever to move to Perth.
With this in mind, it will be interesting to see what Dan Ryan can come up with in terms of defensive rotations given they have signed four defenders (Bruce, Jenner, Aryang and Ellis).
With the emergence of Aryang at wing defence, we may see her come off the bench a bit more and be that versatile player used to plug a gap, where needed.
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