The Melbourne Vixens have fallen to a sharp and swift Adelaide Thunderbirds side this afternoon, finishing the Ballarat pre-season weekend with one assertive win each.
The game started similarly to Saturday’s energetic performance, and Vixens head coach Simone McKinnis OAM was true to her word, as the starting seven saw another combination trialled.
While we are not used to seeing co-captain Kate Moloney in the wing attack bib, she looked as comfortable as ever, providing an array of goal assists to a dominant Mwai Kumwenda.
Kate Eddy worked hard for her team across wing defence and goal defence, getting her hands to the ball at every opportunity, hoping to crawl them back into the race. After a positive win yesterday, the defender was hoping for a better outcome today.
“The game yesterday was really positive, and I think we took away what we wanted from Sydney and we actually tried to execute it in our game,” Eddy said.
“We tried to lift up the energy, but I think today in the second game, we lacked consistency and we didn’t rip the ball in with two hands.
“We’ve still got three weeks to work on a few things, but there are a lot of positive connections building.”
Tayla Honey made a flying start in centre as she became accustomed to the body clashes that were coming her way. As the margin remained close, Ruby Barkmeyer started to get some goals on the board and ultimately more confidence in her shots.
Running into the second quarter, trailing by only three goals, Sacha McDonald made her first appearance for the weekend, coming into goal attack for an impressive quarter. Alongside her was Victorian netballer Gabby Coffey who fitted seamlessly into the side at goal defence, where she partnered with Emily Mannix for the remainder of the game. The pair were exciting to watch, as they balanced the defence circle with quick switches and reaching arms.
“I think we were expecting it [the aggressiveness], I just don’t think we were smart in our ball placement and making sure we were looking after each other.”
“Quite often we gave the ball to the wrong option, and it’s just trying to make sure a bad pass is a good pass by ripping it back in. We definitely expected the hustle and bustle from the Thunderbirds, it’s always a pretty physical game when we play against them.”
It was Mwai Kumwenda who stole the show at the end of the third quarter, as she blasted a Super Shot on the siren, getting the Vixens back to a 11-goal deficit.
While the game was played on the Thunderbirds terms for the most-part of the second half, the Vixens continued to fight. Allie Smith had a solid game in wing defence, before switching with Kate Moloney at three quarter time.
“Today was pretty disappointing, we don’t come out to lose, but there were a lot of positives and the next three weeks at training we’ll be working hard to try and get a round 1 win.
“We have a few new partnerships in our midcourt, so naturally they get a lot of the ball and is where turnovers are more likely to happen, so we’ll be working on building those connections at training before the season starts.”
It was not all doom and gloom today, as we saw some emerging young talent hit the court once again as well as another incredible performance from Emily Mannix who stood up in the moments that mattered most. From her on-court leadership and inspirational intercepts, her will to win was felt down the court.
“We have had a very disjointed pre-season, like everyone else, so we just have to be adaptable and move forward and take it in our stride.”
“We’ve got no excuses from now on, we’ve got three weeks left, we have to show what we’ve got for round 1.”
“Playing in front of a Victorian crowd, it was really nice to have a loud and encouraging atmosphere. Especially when the goalers were shooting the two-pointers.”
“The stadium is fantastic and it’s super cool to be out here in Ballarat with some new Vixens fans.”
The Vixens will look ahead to round 1 of Suncorp Super Netball, as they return to John Cain Arena for the first time since 2019. They will take on grand final opponents, West Coast Fever on Saturday, 1 May at 3pm. Tickets go on sale tomorrow for Vixens members and Wednesday for the general public.