West Coast Fever recruit Chelsea Pitman had doubts when coach Norma Plummer thrust her into goal attack against the Queensland Firebirds on Sunday.
The regular wing attack was thrown into the unfamiliar shooting position in the last term with the Fever trailing 35-32 after skipper Natalie Medhurst was forced from the court with a severely bloodied nose.
The tactical move proved a coaching masterstroke as the Fever scored 16 goals to seven in the final quarter to run out 48-42 victors over the Firebirds at Challenge Stadium.
Pitman last played goal attack for just three minutes during her first season with the Firebirds in 2011 and promptly questioned Plummer when asked to fill the void left by Medhurst.
“‘Do you trust me?’. I think were my exact words,” Pitman said.
“Norma’s put me in there a few times at training and I have confidence in myself that I can deliver the pass, but I just needed to make sure I could turn to the ring and put my shots up.”
The win kept the Perth-based team’s trans-Tasman netball competition finals hopes alive and comes just a week after the Fever upset defending champions Adelaide Thunderbirds.
“It’s just such a tight competition and I think it will go down to the wire for top four so we need to just focus on ourselves and keep making sure we match up on the opposition we come up against week to week,” Pitman said.
The Firebirds dominated the first quarter, restricting the Fever to just 10 attempts while putting up 20 of their own at the other end of the court.
Last season’s grand finalists led by as much as seven goals in the second term, but the Fever continued to fight as defender Eboni Beckford-Chambers began to win her battle with Jamaican sharpshooter Romelda Aitken.
Fever shooter Caitlin Bassett scored 39 from 44 attempts while speedy youngster Ingrid Colyer was impressive in the mid-court for the home side.
Queensland were looking to bounce back after last Monday’s disappointing loss to Melbourne Vixens and were the better side for three quarters, but lacked composure at the finish.
Firebirds captain Laura Geitz admitted her team panicked when the game was on the line.
“We’re our own worst enemy,” Geitz said.
“We just panic a lot and you can see it in our faces. When we push out and take risks, we’re unstoppable but when we freeze we become really limited with our passes and we worry a lot.
“We have to be able to do that for four quarters.”
Both West Coast and Queensland have a 3-4 record at the halfway point of the season and Geitz said her side would need to win all of their remaining games to play a part in the finals.