NSW Swifts’ Super Netball title defence is hanging by a thread after a late brain-fade handed West Coast Fever a gripping, pressure-packed 73-72 victory at Ken Rosewall Arena.
After trailing by 10 points just before three-quarter-time, the Swifts mounted a powerful comeback on Sunday, levelling the scores inside the final minute.
Down by one with eight seconds remaining, Swifts shooter Helen Housby launched a super shot, which would have sealed the win – but it rimmed out.
Team-mate Sophie Fawns secured the rebound but instead of going straight back up and goaling from in close to force extra time, the teenager inexplicably spun around and dished it back out to the more experienced Housby.
With one second to go, Housby’s second long-range attempt also missed and the scraps were snaffled by Fever defender Rudi Ellis.
The result ensures Fever (9-4) cannot be dislodged from second spot on the ladder, while the Swifts (5-8) will need to beat Queensland Firebirds next Sunday and hope other results involving Adelaide, Collingwood and Sunshine Coast go their way.
“Absolute credit to Rudi to come up with that rebound,” said Fever co-captain Courtney Bruce, who was sensational in defence.
“Those are the moments we want to win.
“We know what a formidable side the Swifts are and Helen’s capacity to shoot two-pointers.”
Bruce finished with 14 deflections – including an astonishing seven in the second quarter – to go with nine gains and six rebounds.
Her physicality and disruptive abilities troubled the Swifts, particularly in the opening half, while the radars of Housby and Kelly Singleton were slightly awry.
At the other end, Jhaniele Fowler (64 goals) continued her magnificent season, closing to within 35 goals of breaking her own all-time individual season record of 795, set in 2020, with one round to play.
The Swifts’ inaccuracy was compounded by a lack of rebounding as West Coast moved ahead 40-31 at half-time.
NSW started the third quarter strongly and ended it with a bang, an 8-0 burst seeing them close the gap to 55-52 at three-quarter-time.
Housby was finally breaking free of Bruce’s iron-fisted grip, while Diamonds defensive duo Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner raised their intensity before the Fever survived narrowly at the end a frenetic, goal-for-goal final term.