Sunshine Girl Jhaniele Fowler held her nerve and buried a penalty with no time left on the clock as West Coast Fever snatched a 66-65 victory over Giants Netball, to be the only unbeaten side left in the Australia Super Netball Championship.
With scores tied at 65 in a thriller between the only two unbeaten sides at the RAC Arena last weekend, the 31-year-old Fowler struck the decisive blow to extend Fever’s unbeaten run to five in an incredible start to the season.
Fowler, already the campaign’s leading scorer, was near flawless in her performance, knocking down 55 goals from 56 attempts to spearhead Fever’s victory bid.
Despite their unblemished record, Fever are still only fourth in the eight-team standings on eight points, handicapped from the start of the season by a 12-point deduction for “historical salary cap violations”.
They appeared headed for their first loss of the season when they trailed 17-13 at the end of the first quarter and 37-29 at the half-time whistle.
However, their resurgence started when they out-scored Giants 18-13 to close the gap to trail by only three at 50-47 at the start of the final quarter.
And with Jhaniele Fowler dominating, Fever wore down Giants to lead with five minutes left, even though the margins remained narrow until the end.
For Giants, Sophie Dwyer netted 26 from 33 attempts while Jo Harten supported with 19 from 20 attempts.
Despite the defeat, Giants remained top of the standings on 16 points alongside Sunshine Coast Lightning who won their fourth in five outings with a narrow 59-58 victory over Adelaide Thunderbirds at the Netball SA Stadium in Adelaide.
Lightning led 30-29 at the break but slipped behind 43-42 at the start of the final stanza, before producing a final quarter charge by out-scoring their opponents 17-15.
The winners were carried by Cara Koenen who netted 26 from 28 attempts while Steph Wood chipped in with 16 goals from 19 attempts.
Thunderbirds, featuring Jamaican goalkeeper Shamera Sterling, got 33 from 34 attempts from South African Lenize Potgieter, and 21 from 22 attempts from Georgie Horjus.
At the Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney, Trinidadian Samantha Wallace again proved outstanding at goal shooter, getting the better of Jamaican rival Shimona Nelson, as her New South Wales Swifts brushed aside Collingwood Magpies 62-53.
Wallace shot 43 from 45 attempts as the hosts broke free from a 14-all deadlock at the end of the first quarter to lead 33-29 at the break, before surviving a third quarter stumble to dominate the final stanza.
Nelson was excellent for the losers with 41 goals from 43 attempts while Trinidadian Kalifa McCollin managed two goals from three attempts.
At the Nissan Arena in Brisbane, veteran Jamaican goal-shooter Romelda Aiken sank 39 from 43 attempts but her Queensland Firebirds squandered a bright start to go down 66-64 to Melbourne Vixens, who boast another Sunshine Girl – goalkeeper Kadie-Ann Dehaney – in their ranks.
Firebirds led 24-16 at the end of the first quarter and were ahead 37-35 at the half-time break. They held off Vixens in the third quarter to lead 53-51 at the start of the final quarter but then fell away badly.