By Dustin Edwards
West Coast Fever Captain and Samsung Diamond defender Courtney Bruce says her side is still searching for a four-quarter performance despite dispatching the Melbourne Vixens on Saturday night at Perth Arena.
Fever clinched a finals berth following the 13-goal victory over the Vixens after dominating the match for three quarters and securing three incredibly important bonus points as Bruce looks to a historic top of the ladder finish.
“It feels brilliant to know we’ve made finals,” Bruce said.
“To beat the Vixens by 13 is just fantastic and it really proves that, when we’re firing, when we’ve got 60 minutes in us, and I still don’t think we’ve hit 60 minutes, we can put out a performance like that against a top team.”
Although the season defining win against the Vixens was likely as close as you can get to a four-quarter performance in the tight competition that is Suncorp Super Netball, opposition momentum has proven to be difficult to stop on occasion for Fever.
A 20-16 third quarter from the Vixens saw the visitors almost sneak back into the match, which Bruce says the side is working through trying to halt opposition momentum.
“That third quarter, we need to find a way to stop opposition momentum when they get a roll on,” she said.
“It’s hard to stop, but our second and fourth quarters were absolutely fantastic, it was as close to a 60-minute performance as we can get, I think it’s just still focussing on our plan and just punching through.
“We probably needed to be a bit more of an option bringing it out of defence, but really, they had a change in the goal keeper and we probably didn’t adapt to that quick enough, so just practicing really recognising those moments and how do we adjust our play to it.”
After bursting out of the blocks with a blistering 19-14 first quarter, Fever’s full court defence was back to its terrorising best, with Bruce and Stacey Francis headlining once again to combine for 11 deflections.
“We’ve been working on our starts at training,” she said.
“We know that Vixens come out firing and we knew we had to counteract that, so, for us, it was just playing our game plan and sticking to that.
“I think tonight, we had the belief in what we were doing and in each other, we were able to push out strong at the start and defend well.”
While Bruce’s battle with Malawian import shooter Mwai Kumwenda was a physical one, the Fever captain relished the fight – as she usually does – and is feeling fresh and looking forward to the Giant challenge next week.
“I really enjoy coming up against Kumwenda, she challenges me in the air and in general court play,” she said.
“Personally, my body is in really good shape, probably better shape than it was heading into round one, which is exciting, but feeling really good physically and mentally and absolutely pumped to hit the Giants.”
West Coast Fever will take on the Giants on Saturday night at the International Convention Centre, with the game to decide who wins the Minor Premiership.
The match will be broadcast on Telstra TV from 5.00pm (AWST).