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Vixens run riot over fever in the ANZ Netball Championships
Melbourne Vixens celebrated their first home game of the season with a 70-39 demolition of West Coast Fever, in Melbourne today.
It was all one-way traffic from a rampant Vixens team, stung by last weeks loss to Northern Mystics, while it was back to inconsistent ways for the fragile Fever.
Largest cheer of the day was saved for Julie Corletto, who made her much awaited return to the competition five minutes before halftime, following three knee operations in the last 16 months. Due to her injuries, defender Corletto made limited appearances last year but was warmly welcomed back today as all 12 Vixens players got court time.
The Vixens demonstrated their intent from the outset, chalking up an impressive 18 goals in the first stanza and a glimpse of what was to follow as they took an early stranglehold on the game.
Mixing up their defensive strategies between the zone and one-on-one marking paid off for the home team as Geva Mentor, Bianca Chatfield and Renae Hallinan did an expert job of limiting the Fevers shooting options.
The key figure of Caitlin Bassett was well contained under the hoop as the Vixens defenders limited her to just five goals in the opening quarter. The home team were slick through court, co-captain Sharelle McMahon, a consistent presence with her speedy interchanges into the circle and as equally menacing on defence.
After repelling the early Fever challenge, Vixens continued to extend their lead, constant pressure forcing the visitors into error as the home team headed to the first break with an 18-10 lead.
The rampage showed no signs of abating, the Vixens quickly out of the blocks on the resumption as the home time piled on a succession of goals and threatening to completely blow out the score.
Things went from bad to worse for Fever, necessitating positional and personnel changes as the desperately looked for a way to penetrate on their second phase play. Mentor and Chatfield continued to torment the visiting shooters, the high feed to Bassett bearing little fruit as the Vixens defenders showed off their aerial skills.
Making better use of the ball, a late spurt from the Fever heralded their most promising passage of the game just ahead of halftime but it was nothing more than a minor dent in the hosts 33-19 lead at the main break.
Tegan Caldwell made her entrance at goal attack for the home team for the second half. With the 1.93m Kate Beveridge going to the bench, McMahon took over at goal shooter, the changes giving Vixens a mobile and nippy forward line.
The changes made little difference, the home team enjoying large amounts of possession and dictating proceedings with ease. There was not a lot of resistance from Fever, their defensive patterns simply not working.
The only thing that prevented the score from escalating further was a number of turnovers and missed goals from Vixens as some aspects of play deteriorated in a sloppy quarter. Ashlee Howard did her best to get the Fever attackers moving with some strong drives from goal attack but they made few inroads as Vixens took a commanding 46-30 lead into the last break.
Outstanding contributions from McMahon and Mentor with their team-mates not far behind meant there was no let-up in the final quarter as the margin between the teams continued to mount in a storming finish.
21. August 58
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS