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Match Report | Vixens vs Swifts

WEBSITE MATCHREPORT
4 weeks ago

The Melbourne Vixens have reclaimed the Sargeant-McKinnis Cup with a 20-goal win over long-time rivals the NSW Swifts in front of a packed John Cain Arena on Wurundjeri Country on Sunday.

Player of the match Kate Moloney led her side to victory with a perfectly balanced performance across defence and attack.

Q1 | Vixens 16–13 Swifts

A Moloney intercept at the pocket, a Sarah Klau rebound and Allie Smith hitting the deck were the early signs this match would be a fierce one. The intensity from both sides was immense – the individual battles down the court were each a spectacle, but Emily Mannix (3 intercepts, 1 deflection) and Jo Weston’s dogged work in the circle forced the dynamic NSW attack into four turnovers. The long reach of Swifts goal keeper Sarah Klau pressured Sophie Garbin (36 from 45, 80%) and Kiera Austin (25 from 29, 86%) into a number of super shot misses, but the hand of Austin eventually steadied to put the Vixens in front.

Q2 | Vixens 35–28 Swifts

The Swifts made one change at the break, debuting Victorian pathway player Uneeq Palavi in goal shooter next to the experienced head of Helen Housby. The British international struggled to break free of Weston's smothering pressure down court but found her space once the defenders double-teamed Palavi on the hold – a move ultimately in the Vixens’ favour as Mannix gathered an intercept, and the visitors switched Lili Gorman-Brown into wing attack. Facing a 10-goal deficit, the energetic Swifts defence replied through a Maddy Turner intercept and forced two more Vixens turnovers, as Palavi settled herself into the occasion. The debutant landed 10 goals at 100% plus two super shots to close the gap, before a buzzer-beating two-pointer from Garbin opened the lead once more.

Q3 | Vixens 52–41 Swifts

The midcourt battle had been building all game; Moloney and Sharni Lambden set up the defensive press to cut off the Swifts’ feeding options, and Paige Hadley was moved to wing defence to match the pace of Hannah Mundy (26 feeds, 2 intercepts) and attempt to cut off her access to circle edge. The Vixens injected Rudi Ellis (3 deflections, 2 rebounds) at keeper, but the Swifts changed their strategy with Palavi, using their angles and speed to open up a moving circle instead of looking upwards. Despite all the Swifts threw at the Vixens, the home side seemed to have all the answers and surged ahead off the back of an impressive 15 minutes from Austin, who delivered 9 from 10 including one super shot for the term.

Q4 | Vixens 69–49 Swifts

In a frantic final quarter, the Swifts’ lack of court time with their new goal shooter began to show – Ellis and Weston (3 deflections, 1 rebound) confused the circle with their off-the-body defence, and Sophie Fawns re-took the shooter’s bib. Young gun Lily Graham entered at goal shooter for the Vixens midway through the quarter, while the Swifts continued to adjust their lineup as the minutes ticked away and the margin broke open. Graham looked tentative early on but settled with two goals in a row to the delight of the sell-out crowd. With the Vixens’ defence humming, the challenge was on the attack to steady the ship, which came through a solid few minutes at goal attack for Sophie Garbin, leading the side to a 20-goal win.

THE NUMBERS

  • 132: Captain Kate Moloney earned a player of the match performance with three intercepts, three pickups, 34 feeds, 19 goal assists and just one turnover. Her connection with the players around her, from defence to attack, paid dividends for the victorious Vixens.
  • 3: Emily Mannix took three intercepts, one deflection and two pickups, while her counterpart Jo Weston’s efforts accounted for little on her own stats sheet. Another niggling outing for Weston proves how important it was for her to shut down Housby, while Mannix took care of business to collect the incoming ball.

THE COACH SAYS

Head coach Simone McKinnis was pleased with her side’s ability to blow out the score after a tight opening half.

“I was certainly pleased with the way that we were able to push on. It was really tight, it was hard work in that first half, but I thought in that third quarter we were able to create openings for ourselves, and I was just happy with that last quarter to finish. I think it was the first time we’ve won all four quarters, so I’m pleased with that.”

McKinnis’ team made sure they were bringing the Sargeant-McKinnis Cup home after a huge final quarter effort.

“Capitalising on the opportunities that arose [was the difference], I think that we did get a lot of ball in that last quarter, and we did make the most of it. I thought we were quite good at bringing the gained ball through court and there was some accuracy with girls backing themselves on the shot. But even defensively, in the circle, we really started to work out that super shot time and the time before that.”

NEXT UP

The Vixens head west to take on reigning champs the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Round 12, facing off at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on Saturday 29 June.

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