DESPITE a spirited effort from an understrength NSW Swifts, Melbourne Vixens proved too strong in their Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) clash yesterday to win by five goals. The Vixens dominated the first half to race out to a 32-19 lead, before the home team came to life in the second half to outscore the Vixens 29-21, but it would not be enough as the Vixens defence held firm to win, 53-48.
Coming into the game the Swifts were not only without shooter Sam Wallace (anterior cruciate ligament injury) but also Paige Hadley (COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols), leaving the Vixens defensive third with an advantage. English Roses international Helen Housby was paired up with Kelly Singleton in the starting lineup, whilst the energetic Tayla Fraser had the mammoth job on Kate Moloney, and former Vixen Allie Smith went head-to-head with Liz Watson.
The comparative experience proved the difference in the first half, as the Vixens won the first term by five, and the second term by eight, racing out to a 13-goal half-time lead, 32-19. Mwai Kumwenda put up 26 goals from 27 attempts, while Emily Mannix picked up five intercepts and three rebounds in a mind-boggling defensive display. Though inaccurate with one goals from from four attempts in the first term, Rahni Samason still had six goal assists, then shot three from four in the second term, whilst Watson had 11 goal assists to take her half-time total to 15.
Late in the second term, Samason came to the bench with Kiera Austin her replacement, whilst young gun Sophie Fawns came on for Singleton during the term, and Lilli Gorman-Brown also made her debut in centre, and then rolling into wing attack with Maddy Proud back into centre. Fawns shot three goals from five attempts, with Housby shooting at 100 per cent from her six shots after six from 10 in the first term.
Housby rolled into goal attack for the start of the second half to change up the movement in the circle, with Fawns moving into goal shooter, ad Fraser coming on from Gorman-Brown. Though the margin got out to as much as 14 at one stage, some late two-point goals from Housby just gave the home team a sniff, and cut the deficit back by two, to 32-43. Though still an 11-goal margin, the Vixens brought back on Samason for Austin.
At one stage the Swifts fired five consecutive goals which prompted the Vixens to bring Olivia Lewis on midway through the final term for Mannix. A two-point goal to Housby had the Swifts back to 469-49, but a miss, followed by three goals – including a Super Shot – to the Vixens was enough to secure the victory, 53-48.
Kumwenda shot 41 goals from 44 attempts, with Samason (seven from 11 and 12 goal assists) providing great support. Watson put up a fantastic assisting role with 24 goal assists from 35 feeds, as well as three deflections, whilst Mannix (five intercepts, three deflections and four rebounds) and Jo Weston (five deflections, one intercept and one rebound) were a strong pairing in defence.
For the Swifts, Housby tried hard with 24 goals from 33 attempts, eight goal assists, two rebounds and one deflection, whilst Diamonds defensive pairing Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner also stood out. They combined for 11 deflections and three rebounds. Fawns scored 15 goals from 18 attempts on debut, and Proud had a team-high 21 goals assists and three deflections.
Melbourne Vixens host GIANTS Netball next Saturday evening at John Cain Arena, whilst NSW Swifts also remain at home that night, taking on Collingwood Magpies.
NSW SWIFTS 9 | 10 | 13 | 16 (48)
MELBOURNE VIXENS 14 | 18 | 11 | 10 (53)
GS: Helen Housby
GA: Kelly Singleton
WA: Maddy Proud
C: Tayla Fraser
WD: Allie Smith
GD: Sarah Klau
GK: Maddy Turner
GS: Mwai Kumwenda
GA: Rahni Samason
WA: Liz Watson
C: Kate Moloney
WD: Kate Eddy
GD: Jo Weston
GK: Emily Mannix