Sport West Coast Fever stuns Lightning to storm into Super Netball grand final

West Coast Fever stuns Lightning to storm into Super Netball grand final

Players unaware: Fever's Emma Cosh in action during the 2020 season. Photo: AAP
Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

West Coast Fever has booked a second grand final appearance and ended Sunshine Coast Lightning’s Super Netball dynasty with a 73-59 preliminary final triumph.

Lightning has won two titles and contested three grand finals since its 2017 debut but its stunning sequence ended at USC Stadium when Fever qualified for next Sunday’s season climax against Melbourne Vixens in Brisbane.

Sunshine Coast captain Laura Langman has already announced her international retirement and her duel with Fever co-captain Verity Charles may be the Silver Ferns titan’s last sighting at national league level.

Charles outplayed the World Cup-winning New Zealand captain with a mighty performance at both ends of the court.

An ever-humble Langman refused to let her possible swansong steal the headlines from an outstanding Fever effort.

“I think I’ll just get over this knife in the guts first,” the champion midcourter said when asked about her 2021 intentions.

Charles wasn’t the only hero, with Fever teammates Emma Cosh and Alice Teague-Neeld outrunning and out-feeding their direct opponents.

And spearhead Jhaniele Fowler was the focal point with 60 goals from 62 attempts.

“I’m so proud of the girls. Each game we’ve come and built,” Cosh said.

Although Langman’s future is uncertain, it was a disappointing finish for Lightning’s Jacqui Russell, who had a fine second-half cameo in her final career game.

Fever conceded the most goals of any of the finalists during the regular season – more than seventh placed Adelaide – but its defence set the context for the preliminary final.

Jess Anstiss, Stacey Francis and Courtney Bruce restricted the home side to a combined nine scoring attempts in the first quarter.

Young Lightning shooter Cara Koenen would ordinarily do that on her own.

As fiercely as Lightning responded, the pressure it faced forced almost twice as many first-half turnovers as its opponents.

With the win effectively sealed by three-quarter time, West Coast handed young centre Courtney Kruta a debut in the final term.