THE Collingwood Magpies stayed in the hunt for finals with a six-goal victory over the West Coast Fever, 57-63. Collingwood were without Head Coach Rob Wright who was unable to travel due to an illness in the family, leaving assistant coaches Nicole Richardson and Kate Upton in charge of the Pies.
Despite the final margin the Fever kept up with the Magpies for much of the match, winning two bonus points and drawing another. There were 10 lead changes during the match showcasing the closeness and intensity of the game, however late in the third quarter Collingwood blazed away, scoring seven goals in a row to draw out the margin.
During the first quarter Fever looked confident, quickly transitioning from defence to attack where Jhaniele Fowler dominated the circle. The Magpies had trouble moving the ball forward off their centre passes early but once the connections clicked Collingwood made the most of them with Shimona Nelson holding strong in the circle, scoring eight goals from nine attempts then going on to finish the match with 43 goals from 50 attempts.
The Magpies started with Gabrielle Sinclair on the court for the second week in a row and while she made her presence felt early, two general play turnovers and a clogged up attacking third prompted a change to start the second quarter with the two sides sitting on 14 goals apiece. Veteran Nat Medhurst took the court and instantly the Magpies looked more dangerous in attack, with Medhurst’s experience opening up plenty of space for Nelson despite the physicality of Fever’s defence. Neck-and-neck for much of the quarter, it was Fowler’s shooting and Ingrid Colyer’s speed that saw the Fever edge ahead of the Magpies by a goal at halftime.
The Magpies took control of the match in the third quarter with Ash Brazill making the centre bib her own as she zipped back and forth across the court, applying pressure to the Fever while finding the circle edge and feeding with ease. Geva Mentor did enough to cause trouble for Fever’s feeders and it was on the back of a Mentor intercept that the Magpies were able to pull away.
Fever altered their line-up to start the final quarter with Shannon Eagland coming on court into goal defence, moving Stacey Francis to wing defence and Jess Anstiss to the bench. Despite the changes, the Magpies continued to outplay the Fever with Kelsey Browne, Brazill and Medhurst starring with hard drives and pinpoint connections.
With less than five minutes on the clock, Fever head coach Stacey Marinkovich pulled the trigger on more changes moving Courtney Bruce into goal defence and sending Eagland back to the bench while Olivia Lewis came on into goal keeper. Marinkovich also moved Verity Charles to the bench with Anstiss returning to the court to take the centre position. The changes did have an impact however it was too little too late for the Fever to claw back the margin by enough to win – though they did stop the Magpies from claiming another bonus point.
Despite the victory, Collingwood still sit outside the top four behind the GIANTS by one point with two rounds left before finals. It is still possible for the Magpies to make a finals appearance but with matches against ladder-leaders the NSW Swifts and the third-placed Melbourne Vixens on the cards, the GIANTS have an arguably easier run home with the Adelaide Thunderbirds and Fever in the coming weeks. Out of finals contention, Fever will be looking to finish their season off with a high coming up against the Firebirds on Sunday before travelling to meet the GIANTS.
West Coast Fever:
GS | Jhaniele Fowler
GA | Alice Teague-Neeld
WA | Ingrid Colyer
C | Verity Charles
WD | Jess Anstiss
GD | Stacey Francis
GK | Courtney Bruce
GS | Shimona Nelson
GA | Gabrielle Sinclair
WA | Kelsey Browne
C | Ash Brazill
WD | Kim Ravaillion
GD | April Brandley
GK | Geva Mentor