Vixens eye off second SSN title in three seasons

THE past few years have been one eventful rollercoaster of emotions for the Melbourne Vixens.

After tasting the highest of highs with a flag in 2020, they experienced the lowest of lows in 2021, finishing wooden spooners. But, a mere 12 months later things are very different for the Vixens. They finished on top and are back in another Suncorp Super Netball Grand Final.

Despite things looking bleak at the end of last season, Vixens co-captain Liz Watson said that they always had the belief they would be back in the big dance again.

“Yeah absolutely. I think everyone was extremely disappointed with last year’s season,” she said. “Everyone came in fully focused for preseason. “It was exciting and as Vixens we want to be at the top, we want to be in finals and that goes right back to when Bianca (Chatfield) and Tegan (Philip) and these players were playing, and we kind of let ourselves down and the club down. Definitely always had that belief and that’s what you need to get into a final.”

Vixens coach Simone McKinnis noted how much it meant to the team to be back in another grand final.

“Look I think you can see from our reaction after the preliminary final how much it means to us to be playing in another grand final, and I’m actually excited and looking forward to getting on the road again because it’s been a few weeks and we do like travelling, we do like being together so it will be good for us to get on the road to spend that time together as a team while we’re over in Perth,” she said. Yeah can’t wait for the game.”

It has not all been smooth sailing for the Vixens, with the minor premiers the victims of a controversial decision to sell the grand final to Perth in the final weeks of the season. As much as the decision frustrated them, McKinnis said that her side did not dwell on it too much.

“You know what it was, we wouldn’t have been talking about finals, because you really just do work on the basis of next game, next game,” she said. “We had a focus on finishing top, and that was just about winning each week, and unfortunately because it only related to two teams, it just brought that into us, that we had to talk about hosting or not hosting.

“It’s like ‘hang on a minute, we just still finishing our season’, so that was frustrating, the timing of it. “But we didn’t really dwell on it, we made a point of it’s just not relevant for us. What was relevant was our next game, that next day, and finishing top. “I think it was frustrating, the timing of it, and that we were forced into a position that we had to be talking about grand finals and finals, which we wouldn’t have been doing.”

They’ve had some special weapons this week in their preparation, drawing on the experiences of the former champions of the club to part their wisdom on the current day Vixens.

“It is that connection that they are the foundation of us as a club” McKinnis said. “They’re an important part of why we’re here now and the way we go about things and it’s important to maintain that connection and draw from their experiences. You’ve got like Biance Chatfield, Sharelle McMahon, Tegan Phillip, that sort of experience, they’ve been through anything and everything, so to be able to pick their brains, to be able to talk and even just have their support, we’re really fortunate.”

The Vixens do come up against a Fever side that although they have beaten twice this season, were unable to do so in the Major Semi Final.

McKinnis noted that they were not happy with their performance that day but had to move on from it quickly.

“Oh look we were super disappointed. It just really felt like an opportunity that we let slip, an opportunity that we’ve worked hard to get to top spot and to host that final, but we had to shut the door on it, just close it because we really had to focus on GIANTS, we had to win that, that was do or die. That was it, whether we were playing Grand Final or not, so I think the players did that really well and here we are prepping for a Grand Final.”

The Vixens are fully aware of the task ahead of them heading into Sunday’s game.

“The Fever have been up there mixing it, played in a couple of Grand Finals over the most recent seasons, and that’s because they’re one of the best teams in the competition. They’re one of the deadliest, lethal teams in the competition as far as their scoring ability, last time we played them defensively they were all over us. They have strength across the court, they have a confidence this year that they can really do it, and it’s going to take our best and certainly we’re looking for four quarters. We want our best over there.”

Does the fairytale comeback back have one more layer of icing left for the Vixens? All will be revealed in about 48 hours.

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