05/03/2024

Can the West Coast Fever make it through to the Grand Final again after missing in 2021? (Photo: West Coast Fever; Design: Will Cuckson)

After a disappointing ending to a terrific 2021, the West Coast Fever are set to challenge for ultimate glory this upcoming SSN season.

The West Coast Fever started behind the pack in 2021, stripped of 12 premiership points for salary cap breaches. They still won the most games of any side, but faltered come finals time.

Last season:

After a red hot start to the 2021 season which saw them win their first seven games, the Fever started to stall in the second half, finishing third and behind the two New South Wales sides. 

Whilst they won the minor semi-final against the Lightning, turnovers and fouls cost them as they went down in the preliminary final.

They haven’t made too many changes this offseason, with only defender Rudi Ellis coming in from the Firebirds and replacing Olivia Lewis. 

However, coach Stacey Marinkovich has left after deciding to give her full attention to the Australian Diamonds. Ex-Thunderbirds coach Dan Ryan has come in, and will replace her after a season with English club Leeds Rhinos.

What’s made waves in the pre-season?

The Fever were back to their best in the Team Girls Cup late last month, however they just fell agonisingly short in the Grand Final against the Vixens.

Whilst they didn’t win the tournament they hardly had any flaws, comfortably winning against the Thunderbirds and Magpies as well as enacting some revenge for last year’s preliminary final loss against the Giants.

Courtney Bruce continued her stunning form from the Netball Quad Series whilst Ellis slotted in seamlessly to an already strong Fever defence.

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What needs to change?

The Fever don’t have too many flaws, particularly in both circles. However one thing that they need to improve on is a consistent mid-court.

In the preliminary final against the Giants it cost them dearly, with the midcourt trio of Maddie Hay, Jamie-Lee Price and Amy Paramenter proving far too strong for them.

Dan Ryan did chop and change it a little during the Team Girls Cup. However in their final two games (including the final) he utilised the more experienced trio of Verity Simmons, Stacey Francis-Bayman and Jess Antiss.

If they can find some consistency with those three, then it could be a tough mountain for opposition to climb against the Fever.

Who’s in for a big season?

She may not start in too many games, but Rudi Ellis’ impact could be big in an already strong Fever defence.

It was a solid 2021 with the Firebirds for Ellis. Playing all but three games she had eight intercepts, 24 deflections and four rebounds.

Ellis showed glimpses of her potential in the Team Girls Cup this year coming off the bench, and will look to continue to show that in the coming season.

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The games that matter:

It’s set to be a tough start to the season for the Fever in 2022, who will play five away games again in the competition’s first half.

Their two home games during that period are against two 2021 finalists. First up they’ll face semi-final opponents Sunshine Coast Lightning before taking on premiers NSW Swifts in Round 5.

That game against the Swifts will come in the middle of a tough three week period where they’ll face Team Girls Cup champion Melbourne Vixens at John Cain Arena and 2021 minor premiers Giants Netball away.

Later on in the season they’ll again face the Giants and Vixens at RAC Arena in Rounds 10 and 11. They’ll then travel back up to Ken Rosewall Arena to face the Swifts in the penultimate round of the season.

Ladder prediction:

1st

The Fever showed that even with a year that was once again interrupted by COVID and off-field punishments, their squad is good enough to beat anyone. Though they may be under a new coach, it’ll be more of the same from this dominant side.

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