The Melbourne Vixens will be looking to stick to their winning ways and cement their top spot on the Suncorp Super Netball ladder when they take on crosstown rivals, the Collingwood Magpies, at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Despite the different ladder positions of both teams, the Vixens always expect a battle when it comes to facing the Magpies. Star defender, Jo Weston, said her team were buoyed by some good form ahead of their Round 12 clash.
“Although we drew against the Fever [last] weekend (in Round 10), given that we were so far behind in the third quarter it did feel like we’d managed to dig ourselves out of what was quite a large hole. It would’ve been nice to get the win but a draw, is still a positive for us,” Weston explained.
“I think when we came into [face] the Swifts [in Round 11]…we always knew it was going to be a really tough game because we have such an interesting history with them, and I guess getting a strong start and not getting us into that position like we did against the Fever was really important, and it was just a really good, collective team effort.
“MJ was a superstar with her defensive pickups – I’m so proud!” Weston laughed, “and same with Caity Thwaites running out a full game at goal attack, and our midcourt as usual, just chugging along…so it was a really great team effort out on court.”
With Emily Mannix having missed two games as a precaution due to calf soreness, and Liz Watson to miss the Magpies clash - also precautionary - after falling awkwardly on her ankle in Round 11, it’s questioned whether the physical reality of the condensed season is starting to show, however Weston insists it’s business as usual.
“I think when we play up on the Sunny Coast there’s always a bit more soreness the next day - there’s a bit more of a bus ride up and back - but I’ve personally pulled up ok.
“We’ve got a big focus on recovery after every single game due to the condensed season, so we’re just making sure we’re keeping on top of everything.”
Whilst Weston is the Vixens starting goal defence, this year we have seen Head Coach, Simone McKinnis OAM, utilise her versatility more than ever before, with regular stints out at wing defence and even in at goal keeper.
“They say variety is the spice of life, so it’s fun to be versatile!” Weston said. “I guess the motto of the season is just be as adaptable as possible so I’m just embodying that out on the netball court.
“Switching between goal defence and wing defence is always kind of fun because it gives us different options and the two are probably much more alike than goal defence and goal keeper are.”
“I don’t play goal keeper that frequently anymore, so I’m a little bit rusty, but once I get into the mood of things I do quite enjoy it and it’s less running, which is a bonus!”
Saturday will be the first time the Vixens and the Magpies have met since Round 1, in a match that was played under bizarre circumstances, with both sides still being under their mandatory 14-day quarantine period upon entry to Queensland.
The Magpies on-court line up will likely also look quite different to Round 1, due to the absence of the Browne sisters – Kelsey due to injury, and Madi due to retirement.
“They will have a bit of a different looking midcourt,” Weston agreed, “but both Molly Jovic and Kelly Altmann have been really good, and they do probably play a similar style of netball [to us] in that midcourt – very speedy, very quick – so we’ll probably still have our work cut out for us there.”
“It feels like a lifetime ago we played Magpies for the first time in that game in quarantine, so we’ll probably go back and look [at the tape], but it was also the first time that any of us had played with the [Suncorp] Super Shot, so there’s a few different tactics and skills involved with that now, so we’ll wait and see what happens on the weekend.”
The Magpies will host the Vixens at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena, for yet another crosstown clash with a difference. The match will be broadcast live on Channel 9 from 3pm.
For our Melbourne army, you can support the Vixens from home on the couch, by using the hashtag #VixensAtHome on your social media, and become a Beyond the Court member for just $55 here.