West Coast Fever have opened the 2021 Super Netball season in impressive style with an emphatic 65-51 win over reigning champions Melbourne Vixens.
The Vixens were aiming to make a successful start to their premiership defence in front of their home fans at John Cain Arena but the Fever won every quarter on their way to victory in the grand final rematch.
A flying start to the year was crucial for the West Australian club's semi-final prospects after being stripped of 12 premiership points due to salary cap breaches and the Fever delivered despite a fierce challenge from the Vixens in the third quarter.
Three-time Super Netball Player of the Year Jhaniele Fowler looks set for another outstanding season for the Fever, the Jamaican shooter leading from the front with 54 goals.
"It is a very important win for us, it just helps our confidence continuing into the season," Fowler said after the win.
The Fever led 34-27 at halftime but saw their advantage cut to four goals with Fowler forced into some uncharacteristic misses by Vixens defender and fellow Jamaican national team member Kadie-Ann Dehany.
"She came out and disrupted my shot a little bit but it's just for me to adjust ... and get my head in the game," Fowler said about Dehany's impact.
Melbourne were down by five with one minute left in the third quarter but former Adelaide Thunderbirds goaler Sasha Glasgow nailed a two-point Super Shot and Fowler added two more goals to surge ahead 47-38.
The Fever finished the job in the final term as the lead blew out by as many as 19 goals before former West Coast goaler Kaylia Stanton capped her Vixens debut with a pair of Super Shots.
The task of defending their 2020 title was always going to be challenging for the Vixens following the retirements of veteran goalers Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip, along with gun midcourter Liz Watson ruled out for the season with a foot injury.
The Vixens looked to 19-year-old temporary replacement player Hannah Mundy to fill the void at wing attack while fellow national league debutant Ruby Barkmeyer showed flashes of her shooting ability.
But Melbourne's attack struggled to find their rhythm under immense pressure from the Fever, defender Sunday Aryang playing a starring role alongside captain and Diamonds goal keeper Courtney Bruce.
After an eventful lead-up to the season opener due to a three-day COVID-19 lockdown in Perth, the Fever return home to host NSW Swifts next Saturday while the Vixens play Sunshine Coast Lightning in Melbourne next Sunday.