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Match Report | Thunderbirds vs Vixens

3 weeks ago

The Melbourne Vixens have suffered their second loss of the season, going down to the Adelaide Thunderbirds by 15 goals at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on Kaurna Land on Saturday.

Simone McKinnis tested her combinations against a well-drilled Thunderbirds outfit as the team looks ahead to finals.

Midcourter Zara Walters made her return, having sat out since Round 4 with a lower back injury, and had an impact with 20 feeds, three pickups and 49.5 Nissan Net Points in 40 minutes on court.

Q1 | Thunderbirds 15–15 Vixens

Both sides struggled to settle in the opening quarter, the Vixens taking a controlled approach in attack to limit the high ball into Shamera Sterling-Humprey, but their conservativeness at times translated to hesitation. It was the opposite story for the Thunderbirds, who looked high and long for the risky feed to Romelda Aiken-George past the reach of Rudi Ellis.

Q2 | Thunderbirds 32–25 Vixens

Intentional, hard and fast drives from Sophie Garbin (26 goals, 84%) and Kiera Austin (20 goals, 77%) allowed the Vixens to briefly settle into their traditional fast-moving style, but the Thunderbirds’ floating pressure forced the attack line into disconnect. Sharni Lambden’s injection to the reshuffled Jo Weston-Emily Mannix defence helped stem the Thunderbirds' flow of goals, but wasn't enough to match the turnover of ball at the other end.

Q3 | Thunderbirds 51–43 Vixens

After a disrupted first half, Kate Moloney took to the bench with Hannah Mundy (18 feeds, 2 deflections) returning into the centre. Mundy created long leads to draw out the defenders, but the Thunderbirds resisted the fake and held their structure to confuse the space. Weston (2 gains) and Mannix (2 intercepts) were workhorses in defence – their front position on Aiken-George and fingertips to the ball were just enough to keep the Vixens within touching distance, as they steadied with five super shots to claw back the deficit.

Q4 | Thunderbirds 73–58 Vixens

McKinnis continued to test her combinations, with Moloney taking on a tagging role in wing defence and Walters finding her feet. After a solid outing to steady the side under immense physical pressure, Austin switched to goal shooter as Lily Graham offered additional movement around the circle. The Vixens kept adapting and will no doubt treat the loss as the best preparation for finals, ultimately falling short but with plenty of learnings from their trip to the venue that will play host to the Grand Final in August.


  • 7: Kiera Austin sunk seven super shots from 10 attempts to steady her side and stay within reach, while Sophie Garbin scored three of her own. The goalers’ ability to go big under immense hands-over pressure will hold them in good stead against the top teams in finals.
  • 3: Zara Walters had three pickups and notched the Vixens’ third-highest Nissan Net Points (49.5) in her return game, putting out a confidence-building performance in wing attack against the in-form Latanya Wilson.


Head coach Simone McKinnis was disappointed with her side’s performance but sees the positives in preparation for finals.

“I think that there’s too many gaps in consistency. For those little patches we were doing what we needed to do and working it well, but it’s just those little things. I just didn’t think we maintained the intensity and concentration about what we needed to do out there,” McKinnis said.

“The other side of it is it’s an opportunity for great learnings and growth that come from that. And that’s the way we look at it and how we’ve looked at every game… [We’re] super hurt, disappointed, but you probably couldn’t get a better game than today that’s got opportunities to learn and grow from.”


The Vixens return home to host their First Nations Round match in NAIDOC Week, taking on West Coast Fever at John Cain Arena on Sunday 7 July.

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