A RUTHLESS FOURTH QUARTER HAS POWERED THE MELBOURNE VIXENS TO A 56-44 SUNCORP SUPER NETBALL WIN AGAINST WEST COAST FEVER AT HISENSE ARENA.
There was little between the two sides for three quarters before the Vixens primed themselves to trample the visitors with a 17-11 last term.
Goalers Mwai Kumwenda (36 goals at 92 per cent) and Tegan Philip (20 at 77 per cent) did not have it all their own way against willing Fever defence but stood up when crucial shots needed to be made.
Fever’s shooters never found clear air against a disciplined Vixens defence combination that forced regular turnovers from the visitors.
Both sides made key changes to their established starting lines and it took several minutes of the first quarter for those connections to build.
Shooter Kaylia Stanton made her first start for the Fever but it was Vixens midcourter Khao Watts, in her first appearance for her new club, who had the greater impact.
The former Fever and Thunderbirds wing attack was heavily involved in attack for the Vixens who led by four goals at quarter time.
West Coast’s mission was made even more difficult after losing an injured Shannon Eagland in the first quarter, however Jessica Anstiss was a ball winner after being shifted into defence from wing attack.
Vixens vice-captain Liz Watson’s growing influence on the game began to shape the contest in the second quarter.
Switched to centre to allow for Watt’s inclusion, Watson had the luxury of two clear targets – Mwai Kumwenda and Tegan Philip – from which to choose.
With Jo Weston on top of Fever captain Natalie Medhurst, West Coast’s only first half avenue to goal was Stanton.
Any edge held by the Victorians wasn’t obvious on the scoreboard.
The Fever held the deficit to four goals for much of the third quarter and trailed by just five at the final change.
Defender Courtney Bruce’s close checking helped keep the Fever within striking distance, with Kumwenda and Philip having to earn every one of their shots.
Coach Simone McKinnis switched Kate Moloney to centre for the last quarter, a change that sparked a breakaway for the Vixens.
Everything clicked right down the court for the Vixens and, combined with the ball winning talents of Weston and Emily Mannix, the home side ran away with the game.
Photography: Getty Images