The NSW Swifts chalked up a one-goal win at John Cain Arena to become the first team this season to defeat the West Coast Fever.
The New South Wales Swifts held off a late surge by the West Coast Fever to produce a nailbiting one-goal win on Sunday, celebrating captain Maddy Proud’s 100th national league game in thrilling style at Melbourne’s John Cain Arena.
With their victory, the Swifts became the first team this season to defeat West Coast.
New South Wales led by nine goals at the final break, but a last-gasp super shot clinic by Alice Teague-Neeld and Sasha Glasgow took the Fever off the canvas and forced the Swifts into a game of keepings off as the seconds ticked away.
The 66-65 win virtually seals a finals berth for the Swifts, whose second and third quarters laid the foundations to the tense triumph over their opponents.
The victory broke a three-game losing streak against the Fever and capped off a week of celebration for Proud, who had an equal game-high 31 feeds to go with 19 assists.
Goaler Helen Housby was monumental with four super shots and 11 regular goals, while for the Fever, Teague-Neeld and Glasgow combined for seven double-pointers to scare the Swifts late.
Intensity was high and defensive pressure was evident from the game’s outset as the contest lived up to its lofty expectations, with Jhaniele Fowler’s typically flawless shooting proving the minor difference between the sides early.
Swifts shooter Sam Wallace was locked in an intriguing, physical battle with Courtney Bruce at the other end, whose defensive prowess complemented the imposing Fowler threat.
But the Fever’s midcourt movement was often obstructed by the Swifts’ pressure and zone defence, which effected a host of second-term turnovers and swung the scoreboard back into New South Wales’ favour.
The Swifts’ second quarter was commanding — they outscored their opponents 21-13 — although the blow was softened by a pair of Glasgow super shots on the eve of halftime.
The Fever were favoured by fresh legs in the second half after missing last week’s clash with the Vixens due to Covid complications, but the Swifts remained the hungrier side and held a slim lead before a super shot double blow from Housby blew the margin out to nine goals.
Housby’s third-term heroics proved game-defining, and built a lead that was ultimately just enough to hold off the fast-finishing Fever.
Swifts skipper and 100-gamer Proud said the win would fill her side with confidence as the season heats up.
“It’s huge for us,” Proud said post-game.
“The Fever are such a quality team having not dropped a game all year, and we know that our previous performances against them, we’ve always been in it and we knew that we had what it took.
“Maybe if it had gone for a minute longer it might’ve gone a different way, but the way we played in those first three quarters just shows that, on any given day, we can take it up to any team.”