By Aimee Dawson
The Melbourne Vixens continue their soaring start to the season by defeating old rivals the Adelaide Thunderbirds 48 – 39.
The Vixens lead the entire match, even by as much as 14 goals in third quarter.
The Thunderbirds struggled to find a passage into the goal circle, with wing defender Kate Moloney shutting down her wing attack opponent.
Substitute player Kristina Brice replaced Carla Borrego at goal shooter for the Thunderbirds in the third quarter to try to open up the attacking line.
Brice, in her ANZ Championship debut, shot nine goals from 14.
However, the Vixens were able to maintain the margin at around ten goals for the remainder of the game.
The Melbourne stalwarts made one change in the last quarter, with former NSW Swifts shooter, Carla Dziwoki, making her Melbourne Vixens debut.
Dziwoki replaced Tegan Philip, who was rested after rolling her ankle, at goal attack and shot at 100 per cent for the final quarter.
Vixen Karyn Bailey was also on song with her shooting, scoring 30 goals from 39.
The game was not without its share of injuries, with Thunderbirds defender Kate Shimmin injuring herself in the warm-up and Vixen shooter Karyn Bailey being carried from the court after the game with a rolled ankle.
“Towards the end [Bailey] just hurt her ankle and it wasn’t till she sat down I think, so just getting her back to change rooms as quickly as possible”, Melbourne Vixens coach Simone McKinnis on Bailey’s injury.
“Sometimes when you stop and warm down you can feel things more than when you are in the action.”
Vixen wing attack Madison Robinson was named most valuable player (MVP) for the match, with 15 goal assists and 18 centre pass receives.
It was also a milestone game for Vixens captain Bianca Chatfield, who made her 100th ANZ Championship appearance, being the first Melbourne Vixens player to reach the milestone.
Chatfield said she is proud that those 100 games were all played at the same club.
“I’m just proud to have been able to play for the same club my whole career, that’s probably something that doesn’t happen very often anymore and so I feel really privileged that I was able to do it,” Chatfield said.
Chatfield also said that she was overwhelmed by the reception her 100 matches received.
“Personally, I probably haven’t acknowledged it enough. I was like it’s just another game, but it was quite overwhelming by the response from everyone in the changing rooms beforehand and also out on court today.”
“It’s something I’m very proud of and I’m sure I will reflect back on at the end of the year or whenever I get the chance to do so.”
Around the courts
In the first game of the round the Southern Steel were victorious over the Canterbury Tactix, 68 – 54. Steel’s Jhaniele Fowler-Reid was named MVP for the match, individually scoring 56 goals, more than the Tactix’s combined total for the game.
The West Coast Fever continue their stellar start to the 2015 season, defeating the Northern Mystics to make it two from two. Fever shooter Caitlin Bassett was named MVP for the second week in a row after scoring 51 goals from 61 attempts.
The Queensland Firebirds were victors in a fiery and physical game against the Central Pulse, in which Firebirds midcourter Gabi Simpson was controversially sent from the court by the umpire for persistent contact. The Firebirds’ six goal win however was not without casualties, with midcourter Verity Simmons fracturing her wrist after a clash with Pulse defender Joline Henry. Firebirds shooter Romelda Aiken was named MVP for the match, scoring 37 goals at an accuracy of 82 per cent.
In the final game of the round, the NSW Swifts claimed an away-from-home win in a close encounter with the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic. The 48 – 43 win made in two from two for the title favourites the Swifts, with their star mindcourter and captain, Kimberlee Green, named MVP for the match.
The Melbourne Vixens, West Coast Fever and NSW Swifts make the top three of the Australian conference after the first two rounds, whilst the Southern Steel, Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic and Northern Mystics make up the top three for New Zealand.
The round to come
The two highest scorers in the competition, Jhaniele Fowler-Reid and Caitlin Bassett will come face-to-face when the Fever take on the Steel in the first game of the round. The in-form Fever will be difficult to beat, having the home game advantage.
The Swifts and Firebirds will be an exciting match, with many Australian Diamond representatives playing in the match. The key match-ups will be Swifts defender Sharni Layton against Jamaican shooter Romelda Aiken, and the battle of the two Australian midcourters Kimberlee Green and Kimberley Ravaillion.
The Thunderbirds and Mystics will both be hoping to get their 2015 campaign back on track, after both losing this round. Player for player both teams are very even and the match could go either way.
The 2012 Grand Final rematch between the Vixens and Magic will reignite the Australia – New Zealand rivalry when they play this round. It’s hard to look past the flying Vixens to take-out this rematch, leading all the teams in the league in goal percentage.
The Tactix and Pulse will both be hoping to get their first win for the season when they face each other in the last game of the round. Neither team has won any games this season so expect a close and competitive contest between these two teams.
Image courtesy of Netball Scoop