West Coast Fever’s last game of the 2012 ANZ Championships started much like the first, a home game against a New Zealand side, but with another sell-out crowd and a season worth of experience - Challenge Stadium was treated to a performance of epic proportions.
A shaky start for both teams saw plenty of thrown away and loose balls across the court int he first quarter. Bassett and Cox took a while to find their feet, but with Gilmore, Bolton and Brazill working hard in the middle, opportunities were plentiful. The Pulse defence sat ready for intercepts putting pressure on the Fever - Captain Katrina Grant taking some solid ball for her team. The first quarter finished 11 to 7 to the visitors, but Fever still had a lot to give.
Quarter 2 and a resurgent Fever team came out of the blocks firing - Ashleigh Brazill working the ball hard with pinpoint feeds and slick defence. The physicality of the game increased, and both teams took body to ball with several big hits across the court - the umpires copped some abuse from the passionate home crowd. Errors littered the match, both teams failing to capitalize on opportunities but some slick Pulse attack kept them in the game and three goals up - 20 to 17.
Emotions ran high for both teams after half time; pride most certainly on the line. No changes into the third - both teams starting line ups remaining on court. Chanel Gomes and Eboni Beckford-Chambers kept the backline strong, earning their teams some important turnovers, but a relentless Pulse centre court worked the ball with tenacity. A Pulse injury time allowed WA local girl Nikala Smith takes to the court at GA and it wasn’t long before the game benefited from her calm and considered influence. Only two goals in it going into the last quarter, 30 to 28.
No further changes for either team in the last, but with pride and bodies of the line, Fever’s last 15 minutes of 2012 netball looked set to be a blinder. Early errors cost once again, but some solid defending all the way down the court presented plenty of opportunities. The shooting partnership of Cox and Smith settled early, but the pressure never relented - Henry working hard on and off the ball. Some crucial turnovers gave the Fever the opportunity to draw, and with 90 seconds left on the clock everything fell into place. West Coast kept hold of the game, and finished the game the victors, 40 goals to Pulse’s 38.
It’s been an interesting 3 months for West Coast Fever, but the home crowd was rewarded with the performance that they have waited for all season. Captain Cox and Coach Plummer both had tears in their eyes when looking back on the game - a physical and demanding outing that they finally got the right side of.
“I am proud of the girls, and it has done nothing but make me even more excited and ready for 2013” said Cox, “most of us will be back here on this court, and we can’t wait to get a lot more results like this one.”
Most Valuable Player went once again to Fever favourite Ashleigh Brazill, who was visibly overwhelmed by the game.
"I thought I was in the crowd at some points, I was jumping around so much! Thanks so much to everyone for the support - so pumped for 2013."
Everyone at West Coast Fever and Netball WA would like to take this opportunity to thank all the members and fans for their support this year, and we can’t wait to see all of you back at Challenge Stadium in 2013.