The Melbourne Vixens have come off second best in an intense and physical clash with the Queensland Firebirds, going down by 5 goals at Nissan Arena on Turrbal, Jagera and Yugara country on Sunday afternoon.
Q1 | Firebirds 19 - 21 Vixens
Olivia Lewis and Hannah Mundy took to the court in goal keeper and wing attack respectively, with Liz Watson and Kate Moloney shuffling to centre and wing defence. Liv got an early deflection but without gain, Lara Dunkley finding Donnell Wallam with ease. Remi Kamo was physical in the circle, looking to outmuscle MJ Kumwenda following her MVP performance last week. Hannah (28 goal assists, 119.5 Nissan Net Points) continued her fierce form, her patience paying off around circle edge, finishing the quarter with an astounding 15 feeds. Kate pounced on a loose ball to bring possession back to the Vixens, with Kiera Austin (6 supershots) capitalising and levelling the scores. MJ (42 goals, 3 rebounds) showcased her prowess under the post, with a crucial rebound keeping the Vixens hot on the Firebirds’ heels. Trading super shots to end the quarter, the Vixens managed to edge out the home side and take a two goal lead.
Q2 | Firebirds 39 - 36 Vixens
Liz started the quarter with a deflection off the Firebirds’ centre pass. Jo Weston joined in with a deflection of her own, keeping the defensive pressure high. The Vixens were patient at circle edge, Liz (31 feeds, 16 goal assists) and Hannah using their vision to find the perfect feed for MJ and Kiera. An intercept from the Firebirds brought the margin back to a single goal, utilising the high ball to Wallam. Kate (7 pickups, 2 deflections) continued to work hard in the midcourt with two deflections, while Liv (3 deflections, 2 gains) went hunting in the pocket, finding a fantastic intercept to swing the momentum back the Vixens’ way. Ruby Bakewell-Doran stayed glued to Kiera throughout the power five, but Kiera held her off valiantly to find space in the circle. A supershot from Wallam spurred the Firebirds to a late breakaway in the final three minutes. A super shot on the half-time buzzer kept the Vixens in the mix, just three goals down at the major break.
Q3 | Firebirds 56 - 55 Vixens
The second half proved to be as tough a contest as the first, each team unrelenting in the first five minutes. Jo (3 deflections) and Liv combined to try and keep the ball out of Wallam’s hands, but the Diamonds shooter was in scintillating form. Emily Mannix made her way onto the court with ten minutes to play in the third quarter, notching up her 100th national league game. MJ stayed calm under post against a physical Kamo and Bakewell-Doran. Hannah continued her stellar form, injecting pace and energy through the midcourt. The Vixens started to find their rhythm, reducing the deficit to two goals heading into the power five. Two super shots from Kiera and a crucial turnover from Em (3 gains, 2 deflections) saw the Vixens put the pressure back on the Firebirds, the difference just a single goal at three quarter time.
Q4 | Firebirds 76 - 71 Vixens
The intensity of the match only grew in the final term, each team relentless in defence. Em built the pressure in the Firebirds’ goal third, her constant presence forcing the Firebirds to reset while also not allowing Wallam to find space directly under the post. It was a flurry of action to finish the match, each pass coming through faster and stronger than the last. Captains Liz and Kate worked overtime in the midcourt, desperately trying to find the best option for their goalers. Kiera and MJ both sank super shots to keep the Vixens hot on the Firebirds heels, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Queenslanders from extending their winning run.
The Vixens return to John Cain Arena on Wurundjeri Country for their final home game of the season, facing the Collingwood Magpies for the very last time on Monday 12 June at 1pm.
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