Pearce's Preview - Round 12

8 months ago

​As Melbourne Vixens prepare for a rematch with the most frugal defensive force in the competition, they are also expecting a fierce response to a season-worst loss from a GIANTS Netball team they have beaten only once in four attempts.

As Melbourne Vixens prepare for a rematch with the most frugal defensive force in the competition, they are also expecting a fierce response to a season-worst loss from a GIANTS Netball team they have beaten only once in four attempts.

The Vixens’ new normal is the type of training intensity and workrate that has translated to five consecutive wins since the bye, elevating last year’s minor premiers to second on the Suncorp Super Netball ladder with three matches remaining.

Yet one of just three defeats for the season came in round five against the Giants in Sydney, when the Vixens took just one bonus point from a 58-51 defeat. It was also the GWS-backed outfit that upset Simone McKinnis’ team in the 2017 preliminary final, and now sit third, just one point adrift in the chase for a top-two spot.

“It’s certainly going to be a big one for us this weekend, particularly given the Giants have come off a bad (14 goal) loss against Firebirds, so they’ll be certainly coming out all guns blazing after that,’ McKinnis said.

“If I look at our match earlier in the year, we had a really good start, and our first quarter was one of the strongest that we’d put out up until that stage, and we just couldn’t maintain it across the game.

“That’s a strength of the Giants: their ability to maintain a level of excellence throughout the match. And they’ve shown week after week that they’re one of the strongest defensive teams in the competition. But if we want to get better and better and we want to be challenging in finals, then it’s an important step and a great and exciting challenge for us.’’

A key duel will feature in-form Vixens’ goal attack and 100-gamer Tegan Philip against redoubtable Giants defender Bec Bulley, and McKinnis believes her joint-vice-captain - one of six Vixens named among the Diamonds’ squad of 17 last weekend - has produced her best netball of the season in recent weeks.

“They’ve had some great battles, and Tegan’s just got to play her game,’’ McKinnis said. “She’s adapted and adjusted really well what we need from her, and her shooting has been excellent. She’s just got to keep working that.’’

At the other end, goal keeper Kadie-Ann Dehaney, has been improving by the week, having been thrust into a starting-seven role by the finger injury to Emily Mannix. McKinnis is not surprised by what her Jamaican import is producing, and backs Dehaney to modify her game to handle either the moving circle usually preferred by the Giants or the option that includes the taller, holding shooter, Kristina Brice.

“The bottom line is Kadie-Ann knows everybody has her back and everybody’s there to support her and the more she’s out there the more she’s been growing,’’ McKinnis said. “She’s in the moment, and just learning and absorbing everything as it’s happening. She’s got her opportunity and she’s making the most of it.’’

With Liz Watson in career-best touch in the midcourt and reborn Renae Ingles thriving at Wing Defence, tireless captain Kate Moloney has ample support in her duel with Giants’ standout Serena Guthrie, the round five MVP rated by McKinnis as “probably one of the best going around this year’’.

“Defensively she’s very good and she plays a huge role in attack as well, so she’s a real challenge for us. But Kate’s been playing some great netball in recent weeks.''

Even after an unbeaten five-week stretch that started in round seven against ladder-leaders Fever and has continued through to last weekend’s 73-48 thrashing of the hapless Thunderbirds, McKinnis is confident the level can be sustained.

“It’s just the intensity, the focus and the work rate that the girls are bringing to each training and each session that we have. It’s just the norm for them, and I’ve seen that intensity growing across each match,’’ McKinnis said.

“One of the most pleasing things against the Thunderbirds was that they were really strong and concentrating for the majority of the match. We’ve really been working on building that.’’

Click here to get your tickets to the huge Vixens v GIANTS match on Sunday.

More news