West Coast Fever have avoided a fourth Super Netball draw in five games by a matter of seconds and while Jhaniele Fowler took star billing, it was Alice Teague-Neeld who deserves as much credit.
Coming off three losses and a draw in the last four games having opened the season with three defeats, Fever's season was hanging by a thread with a horror first quarter at RAC Arena against the Adelaide Thunderbirds on Saturday night.
Thunderbirds raced to an 11-3 lead and were up 16-7 still by quarter-time having forced Fever into 11 turnovers. They again created eight turnovers in the second period but scored just once from those to allow Fever back into the game.
Eventually scores were tied with Fever in possession and time expiring. Despite a sore knee, Fowler scored her 47th goal of the night in 48 attempts to five West Coast the 53-52 win.
Fever coach Stacey Marinkovich couldn't have been keener on the Jamaican superstar's performance.
"I think that was the best game I've seen from Jhaniele in terms of variation," Marinkovich said.
"That just shows how she is a threat in all dynamics. She can also be a release pass to her now and not just us having to get to the ball to her to shoot."
Kaylia Stanton struggled at goal attack in the opening stages but Marinkovich made the move to bring on Teague-Neeld who was signed as the replacement after last year's grand final for Nat Medhurst.
She shone for the last three quarters to be instrumental in Fever's win with five goals and 26 assists.
"She has been working overtime in the training environment and you have confidence in players because of what they do," Marinkovich said.
"We know what she's capable of and she's building each time. She's still only a young player and has some great feeds and court awareness."
Thunderbirds coach Tania Obst will rue the fact that her team played a near perfect first quarter and then couldn't capitalise in the second to end up losing by a goal.
"We'll kick ourselves for some of the errors we made," Obst said.
"We gained the ball eight times in that second quarter and to only score off one of those is being really wasteful with the ball."
Obst knows the importance of trying to bounce back on Sunday at home to the NSW Swifts.
"We've obviously got five girls going off to the World Cup but we have a real focus on this next seven days and what that means," Obst said.
"We've got another game and it's at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre so that's a big game for us. We hope that we have a lot of our supporters to the game so that we can go into that break on a positive note."
Australian Associated Press