Ten months on from their last Suncorp Super Netball outing, the Melbourne Vixens have given their fans something to smile about, recording a 63-52 victory over their crosstown rivals, the Collingwood Magpies.
After a tight tussle throughout the first three quarters, the Vixens pulled away with a convincing 18-9 final quarter to secure the 11-goal win.
Kate Eddy was exceptional in her Vixens debut, who was up against a strong Browne sister duo for most of the game, yet lead the team sheet for intercepts with four. In a surprise for some, Eddy and Jo Weston swapped positions in the Vixens’ dominant final quarter, with Mannix adding to the sharp defensive trio in the final quarter in what was her 50th National League game.
Melbourne Vixens Head Coach, Simone McKinnis OAM, was full of praise for her debutants, with Jacqui Newton also making her debut in defence.
“It was great to see Jacqui Newton get out there…she’s been a Training Partner working with us for a long time,” McKinnis said.
“Then we had Kate Eddy come back [from NSW] and I thought she did a great job across that transverse line, particularly when she went to goal defence as well. That’s the beauty of Kate and Jo, that they can work across those two positions.
Overall, the tenacious McKinnis was pleased with her team’s performance. But more than anything, she was just excited to see them finally hit the court for 2020.
“It was great, we were really excited. It was a long day today waiting for the game to start with the 5.30 start, so it was great when we got out on court.
“We just spoke about enjoying the opportunity to play again, and I actually thought it was a fair effort. I actually thought in what they put out on court, there was some really good stuff.”
The Vixens much-touted shooting circle of Mwai Kumwenda, Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip made the most of the introduction of the rolling subs, trying out different combinations in the last five minutes of each quarter when the controversial two-point Suncorp Super Shot came into play.
Thwaites was phenomenal under the ring at 93%, only missing one goal for the evening, while Kumwenda and Philip shared the load with 32 goals between them. The Vixens cohesive centre court once again remained poised in what was a goal-for-goal match at times, with wing attack and Co-Captain, Lizzy Watson, having an outstanding four quarters, with 28 goal assists and 48 feeds to the circle.
Fellow attacker and Co-Captain, Kate Moloney, left nothing out on court, with explosive defensive pressure that was mirrored by her teammates. Moloney was named Nissan’s Player of the Match, with 98.5 Nissan Net Points.
“I think that there was some really good signs there [in attack], and I think particularly we had some different combinations down there in the shooting circle, but I thought in terms of our basic skills – which has been a focus – I thought that we weren’t too bad. There were good signs, and enough to work on as well.”
Now that they have made their long-awaited return to the court, the Vixens are looking ahead to their Round 2 clash with the Queensland Firebirds. But before that, there’s one more significant milestone to happen.
“Getting out of quarantine!” McKinnis laughed. “But to be honest, quarantine has been quite good and it’s been an opportunity to really focus…to have a solid block of time together and to hang together. So, although we’re looking to move to our new home, it’s been a good couple of weeks for us.
The Melbourne Vixens will be released from their mandatory 14-day quarantine tomorrow.
Due to the last-minute fixture shuffle - which saw two of this weekend’s Round 1 games moved from Sydney to Brisbane at the last minute - the Vixens Round 2 clash with the Firebirds has been moved to 3pm on Saturday 8 August. The match will be broadcast live on Channel 9.
Don’t forget, you can still support the Vixens from home on the couch – use the hashtag #VixensAtHome on your social media and become a Beyond the Court member for just $55 here.