The Melbourne Vixens are back on the winners list after a hard-fought nine-goal win against the West Coast Fever at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena earlier tonight.
Following Sunday’s disappointing loss to the Adelaide Thunderbirds, 48 hours later the Vixens bounced back, opening the match with a brilliant 21-14 first quarter; the equal-highest scoring opening quarter of the season to date.
Melbourne Vixens Head Coach, Simone McKinnis OAM, said she was pleased with how her charges turned around their on-court performance, with the win well set up from their fast start.
“I’m really pleased with that game overall,” McKinnis said. “Yes, [it was] a fantastic start, but we were ready, and we wanted to come out and have a good game today. [We were] obviously disappointed [by the] previous game but turned it around pretty quickly…the girls went out there and executed and I was very proud of them.”
“We went into the game with an objective of being disciplined in defence, and that is staying in play because we had too many penalties against us previously,” McKinnis continued, referencing the 73 infringements the Vixens were cited for against the Thunderbirds, “so being able to have that pressure but still stay in the play…I thought they did that much better today.”
Coming into her own in the Vixens’ wing defence position, new recruit for 2020, Kate Eddy, echoed her Head Coach’s words.
“I think it was great from us after a disappointing loss to the Thunderbirds on Sunday,” Eddy said.
“It was just great for us girls to refresh and kind of learn from our mistakes and go out there…one thing that we spoke about was our energy in warm up and everything like that, and I think we really set the tone. Cancel out the first minute and a half of the game, we came out and we were firing, so it was good.”
Bar six minutes, McKinnis kept her starting seven unchanged for the entire game, something that followers of the Vixens would not have become accustomed to so far in 2020. However, the classic shooting combination of Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip seemed too in sync to mess with, with Philip in particular improving on her performance from her match against the Thunderbirds, shooting at 89.7%, including 8/10 Super Shots.
Despite Thwaites spending a lot more time at goal attack in 2020 than she has in recent years, McKinnis kept her at goal shooter for the entire 60 minutes, and she was rewarded, with Thwaites shooting at a return of 86.5%,
“Caitlin’s a strong, experienced goal shooter, and for her, she enjoys that challenge,” McKinnis said of her decision to keep Thwaites exclusively in the goal third. “She was a really strong anchor for us throughout the game, and I was very impressed that she just took it on and that she kept still putting those shots up in that goal circle.”
The one exception to McKinnis’ unchanged starting seven was at the 11-minute mark of the first term, when McKinnis called a tactical time out, only to see Co-Captain Kate Moloney limp from the court. After being named in the team of 12 for four of the Vixens’ five matches thus far in 2020, this was 25-year-old Elle McDonald’s call-up to take the court for the first time, replacing Moloney at centre.
It was a win-win for the Vixens; Moloney was cleared of any serious injury, returning to the court in the second term with a freshly strapped ankle, whilst they also got to blood another debutant in McDonald.
After a two-day turnaround between their Round 4 and 5 matches, the Vixens will now enjoy a luxury of a four-day break ahead of Round 6.
“We’ll have a day off [tomorrow]…I did say to the girls at half time that they’ve got another half [of] really hard work, and then we’ve got four days off that will seem like long service leave before the next game after these two days!” McKinnis laughed.
“But we’ll have that recovery and that rest, the girls will have some time off so that they can get away from the ‘team’ as such and do their own thing, and we’ll have a bit of a touch on court as well along the way.”
Whilst Eddy agreed that she was looking forward to a day off from the team environment, she admitted that the time she had spent with her teammates in quarantine had been one of the highlights of her 2020 so far.
“I think just being up here and getting to play after one of the longest pre-seasons ever – which isn’t my highlight! – is the highlight for me but…it’s pretty weird but I did love quarantine,” Eddy laughed.
“It was pretty fun just for me personally…a lot of the girls do have some bonds, so it was good for me to be stuck with them for two weeks and get to know them [better] and everything like that.”
“Quarantine [and] being up here as a whole has kind of been a highlight for me, because it has made my relationships with everyone a lot better, which makes on-court stuff a lot easier.
“It’s pretty cool, I have to kind of pinch myself that I’m fortunate enough to come home and – well, I’m not home anymore! - but to come back to the Vixens, who I did grow up loving and always wanted to play for,” Eddy continued.
“To have Joey and Mannix behind me, and to stand on the transverse line with Moloney next to me, it’s pretty cool, and it’s pretty easy when you’ve got some pretty amazing people around you to support you.”
The Vixens will now make the most of a four-day break before their Round 6 match against the GIANTS on Sunday. In another home match for the Vixens at the Sunshine Coast’s USC Stadium, the Vixens and the GIANTS match will begin at 1pm. The match can be watched live on Channel 9.
Round 5 Statistics
Tegan Philip: 26/29 (89.7%)
Caitlin Thwaites: 32/37 (86.5%)
Emily Mannix: 4 gained balls, 3 intercepts, 1 deflection, 2 pickups
Jo Weston: 3 deflections, 1 gained ball, 1 intercept, 1 pickup, 1 goal assist
Kate Eddy: 3 intercepts, 3 gained balls, 3 deflections, 2 pickups, 1 goal assist
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