The title of outright ladder-leaders, the Sargent-McKinnis Cup, and – perhaps most importantly – pride will be on the line when the Melbourne Vixens take on the NSW Swifts to open Round 8 of the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season on Saturday.
Incredibly, despite being past the halfway point of the regular season, this is the first time these sides will have met thus far in 2020. And with their last meeting being almost a year ago to the day – when the eventual Premiers brought the Vixens’ 2019 campaign to an end with a 60-47 Preliminary Final victory – setting the record straight is well and truly on the cards for the Vixens.
Vixens defender and best on court in Round 7, Emily Mannix, said she was incredibly proud of her team’s efforts on Wednesday night against the Thunderbirds.
“Obviously our Round 4 performance [against the Thunderbirds] wasn’t perfect because we lost the game, so that was hard for us, but I think we learnt a lot [from that game] and…obviously it was a tough first half, but we were able to push through and get the win.”
In what was dubbed a ‘battle of defence’, Mannix was superb in Round 7, collecting 10 deflections and eight intercepts – just one off her league record she set in 2019.
“I had no idea [that I was close to my record], but if I knew that I probably would’ve stolen a couple of the other girls intercepts I reckon!” Mannix laughed. “But no, I think it was a real team defensive effort and Simone spoke of that as well; it’s not just me, and everyone out in front of me did such a good job.”
With the quirks of a condensed SSN season continuing to play out, the Vixens and the Swifts will face off for the first time in 2020 this weekend, despite it now being past the halfway point of the season.
“We’ve played T-Birds twice now and haven’t played Swifts yet, so it’s been a bit of a build up for this match,” Mannix continued. “We love to play against the best teams and I think it’s going to be a real challenge for us, [but] we’re all super excited to get out there and hopefully put out our best performance so far…because it is going to be a tough one…we will have to bring our A-game and play well as a team...”
Mannix added that whilst last year’s Preliminary Final may be in the back of some the teams’ minds, there had been a lot of water under the bridge since then.
“I think in every game we’ve been trying to come out firing. There’s no easy games this year and everyone’s been putting out some really good performances - we’ve seen that with T-Birds this year and Firebirds as well that have been performing well - so I think every game’s a tough game, and we’re going to have to be pretty good to beat the Swifts.”
As to who Mannix and her defensive unit will be lining up against on Saturday, she expects to have a few different opponents rotating through the circle throughout the match.
“I think Sammy Wallace will start, I think she’s a pretty dominant goal shooter for them, but we know that they do have that variation, that they can swing [Sophie] Garbin back there, and [Helen] Housby, so I think for us as a defensive unit we do need to be aware of that.
“But I think the focus for us will be on us and what we can do…and make sure that we’re doing all the right things and being adaptable and playing well as a unit.”
The Vixens will host the NSW Swifts at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena this Saturday 29 August. The match will be broadcast live on Channel 9 from 1pm.
For our Melbourne army, you can support the Vixens from home on the couch, by using the hashtag #VixensAtHome on your social media, and become a Beyond the Court member for just $55 here.
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