Magpies swoop to quell Fever
Nat Medhurst was always going to return to Perth with a point to prove and the Collingwood Magpies veteran did just that by playing her team back into Super Netball finals contention.
Medhurst was unceremoniously dumped by West Coast Fever after last year's grand final loss to Sunshine Coast Lightning following five seasons in Perth. To say the 35-year-old was shocked and hurt would be an understatement - she considered retirement before signing with Collingwood.
Medhurst came off the bench at quarter-time Monday's game at RAC Arena and produced a brilliant display including 14 goals, 13 assists and 17 feeds into the semicircle.
She was instrumental in the Magpies' 63-57 win, which kept Collingwood's finals prospects alive and snuffed out the Fever's hopes.
The Magpies were also without coach Rob Wright in Perth who remained in Melbourne due to a family illness.
Assistant coach Kate Upton was delighted with Medhurst's performance. "Nat had really good work rate," Upton said.
"When she drops off and starts playing out of the circle, that's when we really struggle to work the ball into Shimona Nelson.
"We need to have two viable options in the circle and that's what she's gave us." Collingwood now sit one-point behind the fourth-placed GWS Giants with two games remaining against the NSW Swifts in Launceston on Saturday and then against Melbourne Vixens.
It's a tough run home but Upton is glad the Pies are still just in the hunt. "As long as the fire is alive in their belly then they will just keep kicking along," Upton said.
"They are only just getting better as a group now." Fever coach Stacey Marinkovich is disappointed to be out of the finals hunt with two games to go at home to Queensland Firebirds and away to GWS Giants, she's still hoping for a strong finish.
"For us it would be easy to rock up and wish the season away, but I think we're really committed to making sure we value every opportunity," Marinkovich said. "You're against quality opposition every week and the girls need to keep challenging, and we need to keep executing. If we can do that over the last two rounds you gain momentum for the pre-season coming up."
MAGPIES NETBALL 63 (Shimona Nelson 43 Natalie Medhurst 14 Gabrielle Sinclair 6) bt WEST COAST FEVER 57 (Jhaniele Fowler 54 Alice Teague-Neeld 3) at RAC Arena