Upbeat Fever catches the Firebirds cold
A NEW-look West Coast Fever outfit stunned the Queensland Firebirds 57-50 to open the 2015 trans-Tasman championship in style in Brisbane.
While Australian goal shooter Caitlin Bassett (pictured) finished with 44 goals for the Fever, the Queensland side had problems in attack, coach Roselee Jencke forced to replace a struggling Gretel Tippett in the second quarter.
A great effort in defence by Gabi Simpson, Clare McMeniman and captain Laura Geitz saw the Firebirds take a 26-25 lead into half-time, but it was the visitors who silenced the sell-out crowd after the break. The move of new Fever captain Ashleigh Brazill to centre in the third stanza proved decisive, her service helping Bassett grab 15 goals for the term to set up an eight-goal lead.
Meanwhile, the Melbourne Vixens began their quest to become the first team to win back-to-back titles with a 64-40 win against Kiwi side, the Central Pulse.
Tipped as one of the big improvers this season, the Pulse added to its miserable record of never having won in Australia, nor having won a match in the first round.
For the Vixens shooters Tegan Philip and Karyn Bailey, mid-courters Madi Robinson and Liz Watson, and defenders Geva Mentor and Bianca Chatfield were all outstanding.
In other games, WBOP Magic opened the season with a 45-44 win against the Thunderbirds in Adelaide, while the NSW Swifts overcame the Southern Steel 68-62 in Invercargill.