Melbourne Vixens defeated the Adelaide Thunderbirds by three goals 56-53 at Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium in Traralgon.
The first pre-season hit-out for both sides did not disappoint with plenty of fresh and exciting combinations taking centre stage.
Vixens recruit, Olivia Lewis made her pre-season debut in her new colours down in goal keeper impressing with her tenacity and read of the play, constantly bobbing up to create deflections.
The Vixens nailed the first three goals of the game to set the tone before the Thunderbirds fought back with Lucy Austin showcasing her raw talent under the goal post. Her added height provided a great target for the Thunderbirds with Georgie Horjus and Elle McDonald feeding into her.
Up the other end of the court, the combination of Rahni Samason and Mwai Kumwenda was on fire with the pair finding a wealth of space inside the ring and unafraid to shoot from distance. With the Vixens up by five goals, Adelaide called a timeout to settle the troops but it was to no avail with the Vixens pushing out the margin to six.
Thunderbirds started to motor in the final five minutes of the first term, squashing the margin to just two goals thanks to some impressive work through the midcourt. Tayla Williams impressed with her drive and speed through the centre.
Liz Watson made her long-awaited return to the Vixens, not taking the court in a game with the side since their 2020 championship win. Leading the Diamonds to victory earlier in the year at the Quad Series, it was clear Watson was back to her damaging best once again with her crafty drives to the top of circle edge on display in Traralgon.
After starring in her three games last year the magic of Rahni Samason lived on with the goaler showcasing her range and skillset under the post. Up against the likes of Jamaican, Latanya Wilson and Victorian product Matilda Garrett, Samason proved to be unfazed inside the circle.
New Melbourne Vixens squad member, Sharni Lambden made her way onto the court in the second term and provided plenty of energy. Things started to tighten up with Austin leveling the scores at 18 all in the early stages of the second.
The introduction of Ruby Barkmeyer added some extra speed in attack with the young goaler keeping Garrett occupied outside of the ring. The tables started to turn with the Thunderbirds hitting the front for the first time in the game as the combination of Austin and Horjus took centre stage.
Some Olivia Lewis and Emily Mannix magic inspired the crowd with the Vixens combating the Thunderbirds surge and forging ahead by three goals. The game continued to ebb and flow as they endeavoured to wrestle control.
There was a raft of changes at half time for both sides with Hannah Mundy entering the match and both Jo Weston and Samason returning to the court. The Thunderbirds also tinkered with their line-up as Shamera Sterling pulled on the goal keeper bib and Tippah Dwan hit the court.
The Vixens opened up a handy buffer after half time, extending their lead to eight goals with their connections across the court really coming to the fore. Jordan Cransberg seamlessly rolled onto the court and did not skip a beat with the wing attack hitting circle edge with pace and precision.
Austin single-handedly dragged Adelaide back into the contest sinking consecutive super shots to reduce the margin to three goals from seven heading into the final quarter.
It was a gruelling last quarter with neither side willing to give an inch. Within a blink of an eye the Thunderbirds burst out to a two goal lead but the home crowd support helped rally the Vixens with Kumwenda nailing a super shot.
From there on out it was all the Vixens as they worked in overdrive to secure the win.
It is a short turn around between games with the Vixens taking the court tomorrow at 12 pm. Expect another exciting clash as the Thunderbirds look to bounce back after their loss.
GS - Mwai Kumwenda
GA - Rahni Samason
WA - Liz Watson
C - Kate Moloney
WD - Jo Weston
GD - Emily Mannix
GK - Olivia Lewis
GS – Lucy Austin
GA – Georgie Horjus
WA – Elle McDonald
C – Tayla Williams
WD - Hannah Petty
GD – Matilda Garrett
GK - Latanya Wilson
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