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By Aimee Dawson

The Melbourne Vixens have suffered their worst ever loss in eight years of the ANZ Championship at the hand of arch-rivals, the NSW Swifts.

The Vixens lost by 24 goals in Sunday’s game, passing the previous record of 21 goals, which was against the Firebirds in 2010 and 2011.

The Swifts were a class above the Vixens for the entire match, scoring the first goal of the game and leading until the final whistle.

In the Swift’s best game of the season to-date, it is impossible to choose just one stand-out player.

Susan Pettitt (nee Pratley) impressed after the disappointment of missing out on selection in the Australian Diamonds squad for the upcoming World Cup in August.

Pettitt scored 28 goals from 30 attempts, claimed two offensive rebounds, one gain, one pick-up and seven goal assists, making netball fans wonder how she was left out of the Diamonds side.

Her partner in crime, goal shooter Caitlin Thwaites, also performed well against one of the best defenders in the competition, Geva Mentor.

Thwaites has struggled this season against the top defenders such as Laura Geitz and Eboni Beckford-Chambers, however proved herself against what could be considered the league’s toughest defensive duo in Mentor and Bianca Chatfield.

The other end of the court for the Swifts were crucial in keeping the Vixens goalers to just 18 goals for the first half and only 43 for the entire match, in comparison to the Swifts’ 67.

Shooting hurt the Vixens early in the match, with the Swifts shooters Thwaites and Pettitt shooting at a near perfect percentage, whilst the Vixens struggled to even get the ball to their shooters.

Sharni Layton starred at goal keeper for the NSW team, leading her team from defence and putting her name forward for starting goal keeper of the Australian Diamonds.

Layton finished with 11 gains, four deflections, seven intercepts and four rebounds and four pick-ups, incredible statistics from a game in which she was arguably the most influential player.

The positive for the Vixens is that two debutants took the court for them, coming on halfway through the game.

Alice Teague-Neeld made her debut replacing an out-of-form Tegan Phillip at goal attack.

Teague-Neeld, who is just 19 years old, shot five goals from five attempts against one of the world’s best defenders, Julie Corletto.

The other end of the court for the Vixens saw the debut of goal keeper Emily Mannix.

Mannix was stellar in her first game, finishing with one intercept and four deflections for her half of netball.

With the Swifts finding their form at the right time of the season and the Vixens going back to the drawing board, the battle for the third and final place in the Australian conference is heating up.

The Vixens and the Swifts play each other again in two weeks time in Melbourne.

Image courtesy of Netball New South Wales