For a second straight week, the Melbourne Vixens face a do-or-die scenario in pushing for a finals berth, when they host the in-form NSW Swifts at Margaret Court Arena on Sunday.
Buoyed by Vixens defender Geva Mentor stating that nothing less than a win will satisfy the curtain being drawn on captain Bianca Chatfield’s remarkable career, the Vixens – like last weekend before overhauling the ladder-leading West Coast Fever – require a win on Sunday to remain a mathematical chance of reaching the ANZ Championship finals.
The Vixens are currently a game and a half behind the Swifts in third place in the Australian conference, while the Swifts are enjoying a five-game unbeaten run dating back to Round 8.
Historical and recent form favours the visitors, who have won six of the last seven encounters played in Melbourne, and as well having one hand – and a 24-goal advantage – on the Sargeant-McKinnis trophy after a huge win over the Vixens in front of a record crowd at Allphones Arena 67-43.
The Swifts boast a wealth of quality all over the court led by captain Kimberlee Green in the mid-court, and supported ably by tenacious defender Sharni Layton and shooting link, Susan Pettitt.
With Mentor’s return to form off the back of an exquisite performance against Fever giant Caitlin Bassett last weekend, the match seems certain to be highlighted by the goal shooter-goal keeper battle at both ends of the court.
Melbourne goaler Karyn Bailey accumulated her fourth match MVP last weekend; shooting 39 goals from 42 attempts to lead her side to the upset win.
Bailey’s opposition to Layton will be pivotal in not only how the Vixens can bring their leading goal-scorer into the game, but also how they can limit Layton – who leads the competition in deflections (66) and intercepts (34) – and her ability to set up attack.
With the success of bringing mid-courters Liz Watson and Kate Moloney up one position on court last round, coach Simone McKinnis is almost certain to maintain the starting seven – plus the addition of Jo Weston after half time – that brought a victory back to Melbourne just seven days ago.
The Swifts have proved themselves to be a scoring powerhouse in recent weeks, scoring 60 goals or more in four of their past five matches, and it will be up to the same Vixen’s full-court suffocation they applied on the Fever that will be necessary in keeping the finals dream alive for at least another week.
LAST MEETING: Rd 10, 2015: Swifts 67 def Vixens 43, Sydney
- The Melbourne Vixens need to win this match against the NSW Swifts by at least 25 goals to retain the Sargeant-McKinnis Cup that is played for each year between the two sides. It’s named after two greats of Victorian and New South Wales netball in Anne Sargeant and Simone McKinnis, the current Vixens coach. The winner of the trophy at the end of each season is decided on aggregate over their two regular season matches.
- When they met in Sydney in Round 10, the Swifts handed the Vixens their biggest ever defeat of 24 goals (67-43).
- The Swifts have dominated matches against the Vixens in Melbourne, winning six of the seven contests played between the two sides in the Victorian capital. Three of those victories have been by 10 goals or more.
- The Vixens only victory against the Swifts on their home court came back in Round 8, 2009, when they triumphed 65-63.
- The Swifts are the only side that the Vixens have a worse than 50 per cent winning record against. They have won 40 per cent of their matches overall against the Swifts.
- The Swifts Round 10 victory ended a five-match trend between these two sides where the away team had triumphed, stretching back to Round 9, 2012.
- The Vixens are undefeated on Margaret Court Arena, having defeated Mojo Pulse 64-40 in the opening match of the season and West Coast Fever 56-48 last round.
- Last round was the first time in 2015 that the Vixens have scored more than 50 goals in a match against an Australian opponent.
- The Swifts have scored 60 goals or more for three straight weeks, the first time in their history they have achieved that feat. They have scored 60 goals or more in four of their last five matches. The last time they posted similar numbers was in 2008, when they scored 60-plus goals four times in five matches between Rounds 10-14.
- Current Swifts shooter Caitlin Thwaites holds the record for the most goals scored in a match by a Vixens player against the Swifts with 47 (90 per cent accuracy) in Round 9, 2009.
- The Swifts and Vixens are among four sides in the competition that has seen four players score goals in 2015. The Swifts players are Thwaites (331), Susan Pettitt (26), ex-Vixen Erin Hoare (18) and Stephanie Wood (13). The Vixens goalscorers are Karyn Bailey (323), Tegan Philip (229), ex-Swift Carla Dziwoki (nine) and Alice Teague-Neeld (five).
- Thwaites is the third most accurate shooter in the competition overall, scoring her 331 goals at 89.5 per cent accuracy.
- Vixens midcourter Liz Watson had the most goal assists of any player last round with 18. She is ranked No.5 in the league overall with 129. Swifts captain Kimberlee Green is the highest-ranked Australian player and No.3 overall with 139.