THE MELBOURNE VIXENS HAVE CREPT CLOSER TO THE SUNCORP SUPER NETBALL COMPETITION LEAD BY ENDING GIANTS NETBALL’S UNDEFEATED FIVE-GAME WINNING STREAK, AT MELBOURNE’S HISENSE ARENA.
The Giants clearly missed the precision and leadership of injured captain Kimberlee Green, struggling to break down the defensive wall of the Vixens who hung on for a 59-51 win.
There was nothing between the two pace setters until the final quarter when the Vixens found an extra gear.
Shooting pair Tegan Philip (24 goals) and Mwai Kumwenda (35) rewarded the platform set by the home team’s defence.
Chloe Watson had her best game for the Vixens, stealing the show from many of her internationally capped peers.
She was at the centre of a ruthless defence that made life difficult for Giants pair Jo Harten (30 goals) and Susan Pettitt who was shifted to the midcourt late in the game.
The first quarter quickly evolved into a defensive duel between the two heavyweights.
Giants centre Serena Guthrie announced herself as a serial pest with an intercept and two deflections to put the heat on the Vixens.
Chloe Watson was just as difficult to pass as she built a wall at the Vixens’ defence end.
The Giants fell down, however, with imprecise feeding, and anything less than perfect placement in this game would inevitably lead to a quick turnover and score at the opposite end.
The orange machine was more careful with its possession in the second quarter.
Jo Harten benefitted from smarter placement and chipped away at the Vixens’ lead.
By halftime the Giants were right back in the contest and trailed the Vixens by just two goals.
With so many even match-ups across the court, even the smallest personal victory could swing momentum.
It took until the final three minutes of the third quarter for the Vixens to force some one-on-one outcomes that gave them control.
Watson and Kate Moloney squeezed the Giants until they coughed up the possession that empowered the Vixens to scoot away to a four-goal lead at the final change.
Watson’s dominance forced a change from the visitors, with Pettitt replacing Taylah Davies at wing attack for the last quarter.
The Giants were down by five goals when they called for a tactical time-out with five minutes left.
Nissan Player of the Match: Mwai Kumwenda (Vixens)
photos Janos Schmidt