In a battle for both the Sargeant-McKinnis Cup and second place on the SSN ladder, the Vixens suffered their first loss at home for the season in First Nations Round on Sunday afternoon, going down to the NSW Swifts by eight goals at John Cain Arena on Wurundjeri Country.
Q1 | Vixens 15 - 18 Swifts
Hannah Mundy got the start in wing attack, with Liz Watson and Kate Moloney shuffling back to centre and wing defence respectively. The Vixens got off to a hot start, claiming a turnover three minutes in to take an early lead. Watson (35 feeds, 27 goal assists) and Mundy (8 goal assists, 1 deflection) danced around the circle edge, feeding the ball in with pinpoint accuracy. The Swifts kept pace, Romelda Aiken-George standing tall under the post. They levelled the scores halfway through the quarter only for the Vixens to strike back and reclaim the lead, thanks to another turnover in the Swifts goal third. The final five minutes were scrappy with loose passes coming from both sides, but momentum swung the Swifts’ way and they took a three-goal lead into quarter time.
Q2 | Vixens 32 - 39 Swifts
Keen to level the scores, the Vixens came out and did just that - scoring three consecutive goals to bring the scores to 18-all. Trading blows for much of the quarter, Mundy brought her signature energy and pace to the match, evading Tayla Fraser to find MJ Kumwenda (33 goals, 94% accuracy) under the post. But the Swifts’ connections were too strong, and a few wild passes kept momentum on the visitors’ side. After a super shot from Helen Housby extended their lead to five goals, Kate Eddy came on into wing defence, moving Moloney and Watson to centre and wing attack. Kiera Austin (6 super shots, 2 deflections, 1 gain) and Kumwenda both showed off their accuracy with a super shot each, but Housby and Sophie Fawns responded in kind to extend the Swifts’ lead to seven goals at the main break.
Q3 | Vixens 43 - 59 Swifts
With it all to play for in the second half, the Vixens looked to shake up their strategy and rein in the fast-moving Swifts. Maddy Turner and Sarah Klau turned up their defensive pressure, often forcing Austin to shoot from super shot range. With the lead in double digits after five minutes of play, Eddy worked overtime to pressure Maddy Proud and Paige Hadley’s feeds, a constant presence in the Swifts’ goal third. In a fierce and fiery end to the quarter, Austin and Kumwenda continued to work well together under the post. Each team took their chances in the white arc, but it was the Swifts who capitalised, entering the final quarter with a 16-goal lead.
Q4 | Vixens 62 - 70 Swifts
The Vixens shook up the positions for the final fifteen minutes of play, Liv Lewis using her elevation to contest the reach of Aiken-George. Mundy also returned to inject some strength and pace into the Vixens’ attack. Lewis (1 intercept, 1 gain) immediately made an impact, with an impressive intercept bringing back some much-needed momentum and energy to the home side. With over 8,000 fans cheering them on, the Vixens continued to pile on the pressure. Austin showed off her defensive abilities with an intercept of her own, and Jo Weston (2 intercepts, 4 gains) claimed an impressive rebound. Despite their excellent run late in the piece, the Vixens had left themselves too much to do, and the Sargeant-McKinnis Cup was reclaimed by New South Wales.
THE COACH SAYS
Head coach Simone McKinnis was disappointed with the result, but confident that the team can learn from the match.
“I think that we started the first quarter quite well, great intensity. But our ability to maintain that intensity, that pressure, that work rate just dropped off across the second and third quarters. Some lessons there for us, but we just weren’t good enough.”
“I think there’s a lot to take away from this, it was great to see a strong finish but you’ve got to ask - why wasn’t that there earlier on? We’ve got to learn from that, I think it’s really important because we’ve got three games from here and they’re all going to be just as hard.”
The Vixens hit the road, heading up the east coast to Nissan Arena on Turrbal, Jagera and Yugara country to face the Queensland Firebirds on Sunday 4 June at 4pm.
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