Rugged defence, precision feeding and cool shooting have set up a 54-44 trans-Tasman netball league win for West Coast Fever over Northern Mystics in Auckland.
For the second week running, the Mystics fell off the pace badly in the final quarter of Monday’s contest after leading 12-10 at the first break and 26-24 at halftime.
West Coast had edged ahead 37-36 at the three-quarter mark and put the foot down over the last 15 minutes to back up last week’s opening 63-44 win over the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
Shooter Caitlin Bassett was again outstanding with 40 from 44, while goal attack Natalie Medhurst (14 from 17) directed the Fever midcourt superbly.
Both teams were guilty of coughing up too much turnover ball early on but while the Mystics couldn’t stem their error rate, West Coast cut back on the turnovers to set up a runaway.
West Coast’s hard-working midcourt, boosted by Kate Beveridge’s cool head for the second half, and marshalled by the hard-working Shae Brown, played a key role.
The Mystics defence throughout was excellent, with young circle guards Holly Fowler and Temalisi Fakahokotau keeping Bassett and Medhurst under constant pressure in the first 30 minutes.
However, the Mystics struggled on transition, lacked rhythm and timing in their drive to the circle and just couldn’t find rookie shooter Megan Craig with any consistency.
Some of that was due to 22-year-old Fever keeper Courtney Bruce who, in tandem with April Bradley and Erena Mikaere, kept Craig well under wraps.
At 2.03m tall, the former Tall Ferns basketballer held a 13cm height advantage over Bruce but her netball inexperience proved problematic.
Her teammates struggled to find her range, leaving Bruce to pick up a series of well-timed intercepts until she was forced from the court late in the final quarter with calf cramp.
Craig has huge potential but has a lot of work to do on her accuracy (13 from 20), with Mystics skipper Maria Tutaia’s long-range shooting (27 from 34) playing a big part in keeping them in the match.