West Coast Fever coach Dan Ryan hopes his team’s breakthrough Super Netball triumph will be the start of a golden era.
The Fever ended Western Australia’s 25-year wait for a netball title when they beat the Melbourne Vixens 70-59 in Sunday’s Super Netball grand final.
It was a case of third time lucky for the Fever, who lost grand finals in 2018 and 2020.
Only fringe players Emma Cosh and Stacey Francis-Bayman remain uncontracted for next season, giving Fever an excellent launching pad for back-to-back titles.
Ryan is confident his team can go to another level next season and beyond.
“I think now that we’ve broken through, we’re going to have this hunger to do it again,” Ryan said.
“There’s no question about that. I know wholeheartedly there’s another level of standard within this group that we can dive into.
“We found our very best standard (in the grand final), that is our best right now, but there’s more in them.”
Star goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler was crucial in the grand final victory with 58 goals from 59 attempts.
Courtney Bruce was a rock in defence with six rebounds and eight gains, Verity Simmons was important at centre, while Sasha Glasgow was named player of the match after dishing out 26 assists to Fowler.
But it was the standout performance of wing defence Jess Anstiss against Diamonds captain Liz Watson that went under the radar.
Anstiss had been grounded for seven weeks with a foot injury, but her performance against Watson in both the major semi-final and the grand final was critical.
“If you ever want to understand someone’s value, you’ve just got to look at her last two games,” Ryan said.
“She is one of the most underrated players to play the game at the top level.
“The work she does for the overall team is second to none. She’s a no-fuss athlete and she’s that player you have the utmost trust in every single week.
“Her tasks in the last two games we played were huge against the best wing attack in the world, and she’s done that having not been on court for the majority of the season.”
The Vixens finished the season as minor premiers with a 12-2 record, but they lost twice to the Fever during the finals.
Just making the grand final was still a mighty effort given the Vixens collected the wooden spoon last year.
“It’s hard right now to think about the season that we’ve had, because we’re so disappointed in this moment,” Watson said.
“But there’s so much to celebrate from this season. It’s exciting we actually got to the grand final.”