The Melbourne Vixens have suffered their second loss of the season to the West Coast Fever 53-47, the Perth side remaining unbeaten and in control of the Australian Conference.
Before a fired-up sell-out crowd in Perth's HBF Stadium, the Fever beat the Vixens for the first time since 2010 and successfully defended the Challenge Trophy in the process.
It was in no way one-way traffic for the home side though, as the Vixens surged in the second spell to briefly hold the lead.
Erena Mikaere and April Letton's maturing relationship in defence paid major dividends early, rattling the Vixen's shooting circle and helping the Fever break out to a 7-2 lead halfway through the quarter.
The difference between the two sides grew out to seven goals as Caitlin Bassett and Medhurst made every single shot count. While the Fever had a few hiccups in the midcourt, the Vixens failed to convert them into points, and they found themselves trailing 12-6 at the first break.
But the Vixens proved what a champion outfit they are, scoring the first four goals of the second term through a switch of shooting bibs seeking better movement – Bailey moving out to goal attack and Tegan Philip looking at ease at goal shooter.
There was a switch in power at the other end too - the Fever taking more than four minutes to add to their score with Bassett wobbling under intense attention from Mentor. Five minutes in, and the Vixens had drawn level.
The Fever's response was to move Mikaere to the bench and introduce Josie Janz-Dawson to the defensive line-up. But still the Vixens maintained control, streaking out to a three-goal advantage thanks to the sure hands of Philip.
Medhurst, still maintaining her perfect record, stepped up her shooting contribution to keep the Fever in the mix in the dying minutes of the half, and a diving Shae Brown steal midcourt allowed the Fever to snatch a 22-20 lead as the teams headed to the dressing rooms.
The Fever continued that momentum at the restart, scoring five in a row, and suddenly the lead was out to six; Medhurst and wing attack Khao Watts threading the ball into Bassett with more authority, easing some of the pressure off their lofty shooter.
Meanwhile, Philip and Bailey, switched back to their old positions again, found it tough-going against Janz-Dawson and Letton.
Maintaining the six-goal buffer, and ensuring the Fever finished the quarter up 38-32, Bassett also notched up a personal milestone with the 3500th goal in her ANZ Championship career.
The Vixens' renowned fighting spirit was still alive in the final quarter, and they had halved the deficit within minutes through an upsurge of defence and some nicely measured passing from Robinson in to Bailey.
With five minutes remaining, the Fever still in front, the home side looked to add height to their defence with Mikaere back in the fray and the Vixens' lost Robinson with a knee injury.
But it was the Vixens' who initially benefitted from the shuffle. But Medhurst's influence on attack – ending the match with 19 from 20 shots - ensured the Fever held strong, and won by the margin they established in their outstanding opening quarter.
Fever shooting statistics:
Caitlin Bassett 34/42 (81%)
Natalie Medhurst 19/20 (95%)
Vixens shooting statistics:
Karyn Bailey 25/29 (86%)
Tegan Philip 22/27 (81%)
Chemist Warehouse MVP: Ashleigh Brazill (Fever)
You have not looked at any packages recently.
There are no featured packages.