Jhaniele Fowler and Shamera Sterling have split the honours in their personal duel but it was the former’s West Coast Fever who trumped the Adelaide Thunderbirds everywhere else in a 60-51 victory at Netball SA Stadium.
A fierce final-quarter comeback was insufficient for the Thunderbirds to steal the result from the Fever, who have jumped to first place on the Super Netball ladder.
They occupy top spot at least until the Melbourne Vixens meet Collingwood on Sunday.
The clash between star Jamaicans Fowler and Sterling raised expectations before the round seven game.
Two of the best players in the world, Fowler is the season’s most prolific scorer by almost a hundred goals and Sterling tops the competition for intercepts and gains.
Fowler had a strong finish to shoot 50 goals at 98 per cent but her haul was below her season average of 57.
Sterling had her ups and downs throughout the game yet still enjoyed a handful of fine moments.
Her five intercepts and six deflections were signs of a powerful performance against her internataional teammate.
“I had to be really prepared because she’s really strong,” Fowler said of Sterling.
“It’s always good fun against her but it’s hard work.”
While it was not always rewarded on the scoreboard, Thunderbirds captain Hannah Petty set a high standard for her teammates to follow.
She threw her body into her match-up with Alice Teague-Neeld.
On one occasion she flashed out of nowhere in front of the Fever attacker to win a possession she had no rights to.
The Fever seized control in the second quarter.
Adelaide’s change to a smaller, moving shooting circle failed as the visitors stretched their lead to 10.
While the Thunderbirds often took more than five passes to land in a realistic scoring position, West Coast had no such trouble as surprise starter Emma Cosh’s court craft created space and countless opportunities.
Adelaide have just two wins and prospects of a return to the finals are slim.
Their problems are at the attack end where, despite offering some variety, they fail to create enough shots.
Coach Tania Obst was met with vacant stares from her attackers when she challenged them for answers at three-quarter time.
Fox Sports Netball commentator Madi Browne said the Thunderbirds had fallen well behind scoring benchmarks.
“Mid-teens to 20 goals a quarter is what the best teams are scoring. Twelve or 13 is just not enough,” she said.