Draft Central Courtside Comments: Grand final – Gamechangers
EACH week the Draft Central team will focus on one Suncorp Super Netball player across the round and take a look at their individual highlights, key moments and improvements across their match. During the finals series, the team will instead focus on individual gamechangers across the matches and how they took the game into their own hands. Each set of notes showcases the opinions of our writers individually.
In an astounding effort, the Melbourne Vixens reigned supreme on Sunday afternoon in the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball grand final, defeating West Coast Fever 66-64. While the Fever had a couple of players who really stepped up and performed under pressure, it was tough to skate past the incredible continued effort of the Vixens unit with every single player standing out and proving to be a critical link across the court. Player of the match Mwai Kumwenda was outstanding, while defensively the cohesive long arm brigade of the Vixens was too much with both Emily Mannix and Kate Eddy getting the nod as gamechangers.
Here’s what we had to say:
By: Sophie Taylor, Draft Central Senior Editor
When it comes to gamechangers, it is tough to go past the grand final player of the match in Malawian superstar, Kumwenda. With speed, accuracy and creativity to boot, Kumwenda used her aerial ability to provide a constant threat out the front and keep Courtney Bruce busy. Kumwenda’s consistency and ability to create something out of nothing are her specialties, forming a great combination out the front with Liz Watson – who was influential in her own right – and retirees Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip. Kumwenda constantly used her quick feet, exceptional hold and timing to take charge inside the goal circle, forcing Bruce to stay away from loose ball contests and denying any easy tips with her great reach and sticky fingers. Kumwenda always seemed to be in the right place at the right time, rarely beaten by Bruce and gifted an intercept in the dying the minutes credit to her positioning and never say die attitude. She finished with 47 goals from 50 attempts in an exceptional output, along with three goal assists, two rebounds, one intercept, one pickup and one penalty in a gamechanging effort.
By: Taylah Melki, Draft Central Managing Editor
Having not played since Round 14, the nerves were apparent early for Eddy but once she settled into the contest there was no stopping her. The wing defence was a key cog in the Vixens defensive unit with her three-foot marking on show and blocking the vision of Emma Cosh. Her ability to keep Cosh away from circle edge and render her drives ineffective was crucial in stopping the quick and easy delivery into Jhaniele Fowler under the post. She made life hard for Cosh with the wing attack only registering nine goal assists in her 40 minutes on court thanks to Eddy’s pressure and high netball nous. Eddy showcased just what she is capable of, turning herself inside out to take a huge intercept in the second quarter off the Fever’s centre pass, really injecting some energy in the side and creating some momentum with her clean ball win. Her court coverage was impressive, constantly shadowing her opponent and working in overdrive to be an option for the Vixens attackers on the transverse line. Eddy provided a wealth of support around circle edge, creating tips and deflections to support Jo Weston and Mannix while using her fancy footwork to keep Cosh and Verity Charles away from circle edge and niggle away at the likes of Alice Teague-Neeld to ensure there was no easy pass.
By: Kate Cornish, Draft Central volunteer writer
In the grand final against the West Coast Fever, the Melbourne Vixens were pushed to their absolute limit and the winner of the game was decided in the last minute. There were superstar matchups all over court and any one of them could have played a part in how the game would end, but the burning question on everyone’s lips was if Mannix would be able to have an impact on the scoring machine and Nissan Net-Points winner, Jhaniele Fowler. In a magnificent show of dominance, Fowler only missed one goal all game, with 55 goals from 56 attempts, and while a goal was all but a certainty when she had ball in hand, it was the tireless work that Mannix was able to do off the body of Fowler that won her my title of ‘gamechanger’. It was a game of marginal difference and once Mannix had found her rhythm and stepped off the body of Fowler, she had an impact when it mattered most. In a game of millimetres, with one minute left on the clock, Fever goal attack Teague-Neeld missed a two-point shot and Mannix somehow managed to out-jump Fowler to get a tip on the most important rebound of the game, with partner in crime Weston there in support. The Vixens took their time to get down court, wasting close to 40 seconds and scored off the turnover which sealed their first Super Netball premiership and broke the hearts of Fever for the second time in an SSN Grand Final. Mannix had the hardest job of all on court and she played her role perfectly, backing herself in for the final rebound against the player who had been the most dominant all season.
MORE 2020 VIXENS CONTENT:
MORE 2020 FEVER CONTENT: