The Melbourne Vixens have completed a 2020 sweep of their crosstown rivals, as well as wrapped up the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) Minor Premiership, with an eight-goal win in the Victorian derby against the Collingwood Magpies, in Brisbane.
Despite both teams currently occupying opposite ends of the SSN ladder the battle is always fierce between the Melbourne rivals, and today’s Round 12 clash was no different. The Magpies came out of the blocks firing, taking an 8-0 lead, all before the four-minute mark of the first quarter. After an aptly called time out from Head Coach, Simone McKinnis OAM, the Vixens stemmed the flow, but still trailed 17-12 at the first change.
A 9-18 second term righted things from the Vixens perspective, who went on to win the remaining three quarters, notching up their tenth win for the season in the process.
“We knew they were going to come out really hard,” McKinnis reiterated, “I mean, there’s a true rivalry there between us and we knew that they would love nothing better than to beat us today and they came out super strong.
“I don’t think that we actually handled those first few minutes very well and got ourselves into a bad position again, but certainly we sort of ground our way back into it.
“I think it’s really brought out a new character within the netball scene in Victoria having two teams, and it’s [the rivalry] been super strong and real since the very first game,” McKinnis continued, speaking of the rivalry between the Vixens and the Magpies.
“We got a bit of a walloping from them last year in a couple of games, and we’re actually really happy that we’ve beaten them twice this year.”
Predictably, McKinnis wasn’t fussed by the fact that today’s win meant the Vixens had now secured her side the Minor Premiership for 2020.
“It is pleasing, it means we’ve been playing some consistently good netball across the season, but it doesn’t mean anything now unless we finish the season as the best team in the competition, so that’s our focus now.
“We’ve come through a very challenging period with the two games a week and we have to re-adjust now to one game a week…so we have to re-adjust and our focus shifts to…finishing these next two games as strongly as we can and then focus on finals.”
Liz Watson was a notable absence from the Vixens midcourt today, missing her first game since her national league career began, following an awkward landing on her ankle in the Vixens Round 11 win over the NSW Swifts.
“It’s a bit sore, bit swollen, and she’s hating us at the moment because she’s not allowed to do anything, but we’re just maximising the time that she can get off it.”
“It’s really disappointing for Lizzy and she hates it because I don’t think she’s been injured since she was about 15, so it’s been a whole different new thing for Lizzy,” McKinnis explained.
“I guess the challenge for us is there’s not really much time to prepare, because with the short weeks there’s not much time on court, but you know Tayla [Honey], Elle [McDonald], any of the squad, we’ve been training [together] for a number of years now, so it’s important that they get out there and feel what it’s like, and show what they can do as well.”
Honey got the call up to start in Watson’s favoured wing attack position and played for 40 minutes, before McDonald came on mid-way through the third term, playing out in the position until the end of the game. McKinnis was pleased with the performance of both midcourters, as well as Nissan Player of the Match, Kate Moloney.
“Moloney was fantastic, she was just go, go, go,” McKinnis enthused, “and it was a big moment for Tayla as well, it was her first time starting… But [I’m] really pleased with Moloney…that’s why she’s one of our leaders; she had a great game and took control and supported those around her as well.”
A positive in for the Vixens today was the return of goal keeper, Emily Mannix, who was rested for the past two games as a precaution, after experiencing calf soreness.
“There was actually nothing wrong with my calf, I just pretended that it was an injury so I didn’t have to play against [West Coast Fever’s Jhaniele] Fowler!” Mannix joked post-match.
“No, it’s fine,” she continued. “That’s the thing with this season, in a regular season I might not have missed even a game and I missed two, so it was disappointing and I was disappointed that I had to miss two games.”
Kadie-Ann Dehaney kept her spot in the starting seven, however Mannix was quickly brought on when McKinnis called a time out less than four minutes into the game.
“It was hard to watch,” Mannix said of her time starting on the bench. “I think it got to about 8-nil pretty quickly, so I guess that was a bit frustrating, but I think it was just those little mistakes that we did. They obviously did put a little bit of pressure on us, but probably more we did make those mistakes and were a bit frazzled and threw the ball away a bit, so that was a disappointing start for us.”
“We know [with] other teams moving forward that’s going to be hard to claw back [from], so [we’ve] got to learn from that and move on.”
This Vixens will now enjoy an eight-day break before heading to Cairns, where they will take on the Queensland Firebirds in Round 13, the round that will also serve as Indigenous Round; the League’s annual celebration of the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people to the game of netball.
The Vixens will be hosting the Firebirds at the Cairns Pop Up Arena, with the match being played on Sunday 20 September. It will be broadcast live on Channel 9 from 1pm.
Round 12 Statistics
Tegan Philip: 22/26 (84.6%)
Caitlin Thwaites: 21/22 (95.5%)
Mwai Kumwenda: 14/16 (87.5%)
Emily Mannix: 5 gained balls, 2 intercepts, 3 deflections, 1 pickup
Jo Weston: 8 deflections, 4 pickups, 3 gained balls, 1 intercept
Kate Eddy: 2 gained balls, 2 deflections, 1 intercept, 1 pickup
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.