Lightning’s Bruce hit by Fever on return to Perth

Adrian Warren |

Lightning failed to strike for Diamonds and former West Coast star Courtney Bruce (right).
Lightning failed to strike for Diamonds and former West Coast star Courtney Bruce (right).

Gun Diamonds defender Courtney Bruce has made an unsuccessful Super Netball return to Perth, as her Sunshine Coast Lightning side were crushed 81-56 by her former club West Coast Fever at RAC Arena.

Goal keeper Bruce, who switched to the Queensland club for this season, was up against long-time teammate and champion shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard.

Bruce had four gains, three interceptions and three deflections, but Fowler-Nembhard took the honours making 66 of 68 shots, including all three of her Super Shots, and also pulled down five rebounds.

The Jamaican got great support from her compatriot and shooting circle partner Shanice Beckford (24 assists) and wing attack Alice Teague-Neeld (29 assists).

Defender Sunday Aryang was another massive contributor to the Fever win, pulling off six intercepts, three of them in the first quarter.

Prize Lightning recruits Bruce and Liz Watson tried hard but Fever had all the answers in front of more than 8700 spectators.

As they did in their opening-round victory, Fever won all four quarters, while taking 23 more shots than their opponents.

They controlled the ball much better, giving up just 10 turnovers while Lightning racked up 21.

West Coast never trailed and surged to an early 18-11 lead before Lightning nailed all three of their two-point shots in the last five minutes of the opening quarter to slash the deficit to three at the first break.

Fever took a firm grip on the game in the last three-and-a-half minutes of the second quarter while Lightning captain and goal attack Steph Fretwell was off court with an ankle problem.

They scored the last seven goals of the period to lead 37-26 at halftime.

Fretwell returned to the court halfway through the third and landed three successive Super Shots to reduce the gap, but Fowler-Nembhard added three goals of her own to give her side a 57-42 advantage going into the final quarter.

Their lead never dipped below 13 in the final quarter as the Fever surged away In the last few minutes to coast home with a 25-point margin.

“We were anticipating a really close one and it started that way,” Fever coach Dan Ryan told Fox Sports.

“We just kept finding extra gears and extra connections. The confidence grew and the game plan came to life really nicely.”