A blistering second-half has seen the Melbourne Vixens run out as 20-goal winners over GIANTS Netball at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena earlier this evening.
After a tight opening half which saw the Vixens lead by just five goals at the main break, a scintillating third term saw the Vixens restrict the GIANTS to just eight goals for the quarter; the lowest single-quarter score for the GIANTS thus far in 2020.
Melbourne Vixens Head Coach, Simone McKinnis OAM, said she was pleased by the all-round performance put out on court by her team to commence Round 9 of the condensed Suncorp Super Netball season.
“I was really pleased,” McKinnis reiterated. “I thought we had a really good start so there was really good intent and purpose when we hit the court. We had to actually work really hard the whole way through the game. I know the [margin] was 20 in the end, but it didn’t feel like that - it was hard work every step of the way, but I was really pleased with their work and their composure across the game.”
Co-Captain, Liz Watson, who was also named the game’s MVP, with a performance that included 33 goal assists and 48 feeds, echoed her coach’s comments.
“Yeah, I’m really happy with that win,” Watson said. “I think the first half we felt like we were still in control even though the scoreboard didn’t show that. I think [Jo] Harten was shooting amazing, and Kiera [Austin] actually too with the two-point shot, so I think we just had to stay composed, and we spoke about that at half time in that they’re going to keep scoring and if we just keep ticking that scoreboard over…well, it eventually opened up for us.”
Whilst it did look like the Vixens were doing the hard yards on court early in the first quarter, the GIANTS reeled in an eight-goal Vixens lead to just four at the first change, largely thanks to three from three successfully sunk Suncorp Super Shots from GIANTS Captain, Jo Harten.
The onslaught continued in the second term, with half of the 19 goals scored by the GIANTS in the second quarter coming off Harten’s hands in the final five minutes of the term.
“Well, they started hitting them in the first quarter!” laughed a relieved McKinnis post-game. “And it’s hard work because you had two capable shooters in their circle that were capable of shooting two-pointers, so it’s hard work for the defenders and it took us a little while to figure it out, but I think the important thing was that we didn’t get caught up in that or get panicked because they were scoring two-pointers, and that we were still just sticking to our game and what we needed to do overall.”
Despite rotating three, capable long-range shooters throughout their circle, now past the halfway point of the 2020 season, the Vixens are using the Suncorp Super Shot sparingly.
“Certainly, we’re quite capable of shooting twos and we don’t have any hard and fast rule about when to and when not to,” McKinnis continued. “It’s about the shooters and how they feel and what they’re seeing in the game, but I think just generally not panicking as a team because the opposition’s getting two points and closing the gap. I think we had quite a lead and then all of a sudden, it’s one point, so it’s just that mindset of not getting panicked by it.”
In total the equivalent of 18 goals of the GIANTS final score came from Suncorp Super Shots, compared to the Vixens eight.
“We definitely didn’t score as much as the GIANTS tonight [from the two-point shot] and we came away with a 20-goal win, so I’m very happy with that,” Watson continued.
“I think at the start of the season people didn’t really know how it was going to go, but I think we’ve definitely worked out that you don’t have to go for them all the time even if the other team is, just play your game…and it showed tonight, we won by 20 goals without scoring too many [Suncorp Super Shots], so credit to our shooters for just staying composed and doing their thing.”
Mwai Kumwenda, Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip all spent approximately 40 minutes on court tonight, shooting at between 81 and 91%. Thwaites again started in the goal attack position, before moving to shooter mid-way through the third term.
“I love playing with her out at goal attack,” Watson enthused. “She’s such a big body and so strong there on the line so I can definitely sort of just run off her and use her as a bit of a screen… We are building, and she’s probably surprising herself in how well she’s doing out there at goal attack.”
Despite so much emphasis on the attacking ends of both teams in tonight’s game, McKinnis was also pleased with the work of her defensive end. Once again, McKinnis swapped the goal and wing defence positions at the start of the third quarter, a move that proved inspired with the Vixens winning the term, 15-8.
“I was super pleased with both Jo and Kate Eddy across that transverse and that move has worked very well for us at different times [this year]. Kate Eddy just brings something different into that circle, [with] her long arms and reach…and Jo’s a bit of a pest out on that wing defence role, but it’s a great help for Emily, and you saw Emily really came into the game in that second half.”
“I hate playing on them at training because they do get those tips and touches,” Watson laughed, speaking of her teammates in Weston and Eddy. “I think as attackers we probably let them down sometimes because they are getting so much ball - we just need to make sure we are scoring off it.”
The Vixens will now enjoy a three-day break before taking on the West Coast Fever on Saturday to kick off Round 10. The Vixens will host the Fever at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena this Saturday 5 September, with the game broadcast live on Channel 9 from 1pm.
Round 9 Statistics
Mwai Kumwenda: 32/35 (91.4%)
Caitlin Thwaites: 20/23 (87%)
Tegan Philip: 17/21 (81%)
Emily Mannix: 7 deflections, 6 gained balls, 3 intercepts
Jo Weston: 3 gained balls, 3 deflections, 3 pickups, 2 intercepts
Kate Eddy: 4 gained balls, 3 deflections, 3 pickups, 1 intercept
Kadie-Ann Dehaney: 1 deflection
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