The Melbourne Vixens have saluted Bianca Chatfield's 100th ANZ Championship appearance with a hard-fought nine-goal win over the Adelaide Thunderbirds at Hisense Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Inspired by their captain's milestone, the Vixens had to fight tooth and nail against a dogged Thunderbirds side on their way to a second win from as many starts in front of 4,557 fans.
It was a stark contrast to the previous week's swift execution of the Mojo Pulse, as a physical and defence-orientated tone, plus inaccurate shooting (Vixens 74% - 61%) denied any chance of a free-flowing game.
Yet despite the match's scrappy nature, Vixens coach Simone McKinnis said she was happy for the win.
“It wasn't pretty and we had to work very hard for it, so in terms of that perspective of working hard, I have to be pleased," McKinnis said.
“At no stage was it easy. I think we will have learnt quite a bit from that game as a team."
“Ultimately it comes down to winning games. Sometimes it's a great win like last week…and sometimes it's a grinding, hard-working, keep-at-it game like it was today."
“We've come through that, so I'll take two wins."
Both sides missed the opening five shots of the match before Karyn Bailey (30 from 39) opened the scoring for the afternoon.
It would prove to be a product of the pressure both side's shooters were feeling as Round 1 Golden Bib recipient Tegan Caldwell (13 from 21) struggled for fluency in her shot.
At the other end, Geva Mentor and Bianca Chatfield's defensive pressure as each of Carla Boreggo (13 from 25), Erin Bell (17 and 25) and later on, Kristina Brice (9 from 14) all battled from under the hoop.
The home side took a four-goal lead into quarter time and looked to open the game up again in the second quarter, before a mixture of more missed shots and Adelaide discipline ensure the margin never the exceeded the eventual half time margin of eight goals.
The other side of the half saw the Vixens then jump out of the blocks with a 9-2 run, forcing Thunderbirds coach Jane Woodlands-Thompson to swap Borrego with replacement player, Brice at goal shooter.
The move worked as the Vixens – sitting with a game high margin of 15 – at the time, were pegged back to lead by 10 at the final change.
Further changes from the visitors saw Emily Beaton replace centre Madeline Proud – who was locked in an absorbing battle with Liz Watson throughout the match – to try and restrict the Vixens in the final term.
For the Vixens, Carla Dziwoki made her first appearance in Vixens colours at goal attack, while wing defender Kate Moloney was outstanding in both attacking and defensive aspects of the match.
Madi Robinson was awarded her first match MVP for the year finishing with 15 assists to compliment a renowned and productively busy display.
However the day belonged to Chatfield; the Vixens captain admitting the tightness of the match helped her maintain her focus amid the milestone.
“Personally, I hadn't acknowledged it and just thought of it as another game," Chatfield said.
“It was quite overwhelming, the response of everyone in the change rooms beforehand and then also out on court."
“We had to keep reminding each other that it was going to be a game of persistence today."
“Generally when we do all the hard work in the first three quarters, the rewards can come in the last, but a credit to Thunderbirds, they kept pushing it for the full four quarters."
The Vixens will travel across the Tasman to meet the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic next Sunday in the first of a three-game road trip.
Melbourne Vixens 48 defeated Adelaide Thunderbirds 39
Vixens Shooting Statistics
Karyn Bailey 30/39 (77%)
Tegan Philip 13/21 (62%)
Carla Dziwoki 5/5 (100%)
Thunderbirds Shooting Statistics
Erin Bell 17/25 (68%)
Carla Borrego 13/25 (52%)
Kristina Brice 9/14 (64%)
Chemist Warehouse MVP: Madi Robinson (Vixens)