Pearce's Preview - Round 13

7 months ago

​Four times a week from September to December, Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Jhaniele Fowler share a netball training court as students at The Mico University College in Jamaica. On Saturday night in Perth, they will be opponents in a marquee Round 13 clash that will help to decide the fate of the Melbourne Vixens’ season.

Four times a week from September to December, Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Jhaniele Fowler share a netball training court as students at The Mico University College in Jamaica. On Saturday night in Perth, they will be opponents in a marquee Round 13 clash that will help to decide the fate of the Melbourne Vixens’ season.

After just four full Suncorp Super Netball games since being drafted into the starting seven following the finger injury suffered by Emily Mannix, Dehaney will tackle one of the game’s biggest challenges: the 196-centimetre Fowler, who is averaging a league-leading 54.8 goals per game.

In a boost to the Vixens' defensive end, Mannix will return from her injury after four weeks on the sideline to help Dehaney and Weston combat the high-scoring Fowler.

The young Goal Keeper knows she has support around her, which she will need, and also knows plenty about the Fowler game from all those sessions back home in Kingston.

“The intensity is different, but I do train against her,’’ says Dehaney, 21.

“Maybe (it helps). It’s different coaching and a different background, so we will see what happens.’’

At a long-limbed 192-centimetres, Dehaney is most comfortable against taller shooters, but also notes that Fowler is bigger-bodied than even the likes of Romelda Aiken, whom she helped to restrict in the Vixens’ brave one-goal win a fortnight ago.

Footwork will thus be crucial, but bigger still will be the entire defensive unit’s ability to limit opportunities to supply Fowler from the circle edge.

“I think it’s from everybody, right from MJ (Kumwenda) down the court,’’ says Dehaney.

“We’ve got to slow the ball down, which can give me a chance. The main thing is that everyone needs to do the job on their own player.’’

A two-goal loss to the Giants last Sunday has relegated the Vixens to third on a congested SSN ladder, facing the toughest of all road trips this week, before hosting duties against reigning premiers, Sunshine Coast Lightning in the last round.

Fever are coming off their first home loss for the season, a surprise six-goal defeat against the Firebirds, but are clinging to top spot, two points ahead of the Giants. Given that one of these five teams must miss the finals, the big squeeze is on.

“A win last week over the Giants would have held us in pretty good stead in terms of finals contention and just our place on the ladder and only being able to secure one bonus point from that does put us in a little bit of a more difficult situation,’’ said star goal defence Jo Weston.

“So that’s something we’re going to have to work towards this week and especially trying to win as many quarters as we can against the Fever.’’

In the Hisense Arena edition in round seven, the Vixens played their best quarter of the season - the second - to set up a brilliant 74-60 win that was the first of five in succession after the bye. And, having held Fever to a losing score already this season, Weston is confident her team can repeat the effort.

“Most definitely, and we’ve seen the Firebirds have a really good game against them last week so I’m sure we can pick apart a few pieces from that as to how we’re able to get enough turnovers to win the game,’’ said Weston, who was exceptional in round seven against key assist-supplier Nat Medhurst.

“I guess every shooting circle is pretty tough but with Fowler’s stature and ability to shoot not just close to the post, that definitely makes her a really big challenge for us. To be honest, the work is going to have to be done outside of the goal circle.

“So pretty much our plan of action is forcing their feeders away from the circle edge with really high hands over, forcing them to make mistakes under pressure and then if there is an intercept opportunity there, we really have to back ourselves and go for it.’’

Watch the Vixens take on Fever LIVE on Telstra TV and the Netball Live app.

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