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The Melbourne Vixens have been beaten at home, succumbing to the NSW Swifts for the second time this year, 59 – 51. The Vixens have now lost the last five games against the Swifts, and have lost the Sargeant – McKinnis Cup for the second year in a row.

The Vixens were able to run with the Swifts for a half, leading by three goals at quarter-time, and trailing by just one goal at the main break. However the home team were blown away by the Swifts in the third quarter, with the visitors outscoring them 15 – 9.

The bookends for the Swifts were the backbone of their win, with Sharni Layton and Caitlin Thwaites dominating. Goal keeper Layton was ferocious early, however her best plays came in the second half, when she dominated Vixens shooter Karyn Bailey and kept her to just three goals for the third quarter. Layton finished with four intercepts, 11 deflections and five gains.

Down the other end, Thwaites finished the match with 35 goals from 39 attempts in her MVP performance, scoring more goals than anyone else on court.

A rattled Vixens made a wealth of changes going into the last quarter, including giving youngsters Emily Mannix and Chloe Watson a run in GD and WD. With 12 minutes left on the clock the Vixens managed to reduce the margin to six, however could not get any closer to the Swifts, who powered away to a 10 goal lead before the Vixens brought in back to eight with a late goal from Kim Commane.

Vixens’ coach, Simone McKinnis said that consistency is still a real issue for the Vixens. “We haven’t got that four quarters, and you can’t play two and a half – three quarters against the Swifts and think that you’re going to get a [good] result,” McKinnis said post-match.

“It was a loss in round one, and it was a loss now. I thought we played well, particularly in that first half, I thought there was some good quality netball across the board, I thought that we played smart, strong but we didn’t continue that on through the whole four quarters.”

A defining factor of the game for the Vixens was their shooting, having just one less attempt at goal than the Swifts, but losing by eight. McKinnis was not impressed by the Vixens’ shooting for the match, which sat at 78 per cent, as opposed to the Swifts’ 89 per cent. “That’s not high enough,” McKinnis said.

She did also identify that it’s the defence’s job to make sure the shooters get enough ball to convert.
“[As defenders] you’ve got to give them as many opportunities as they need – if they need one hundred more, you’ve got to find a hundred more balls for them and if you don’t, well, you’re not doing your job.”

The Vixens now head west to take on the team keeping them out of the top three, the West Coast Fever.
“It’s super critical, but every game here on in for us it, and we have to win.”

I am currently a second-year Sports Journalism student at Melbourne's La Trobe University campus. I have a passion for sport, mainly netball, basketball, AFL and cricket.

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Email: aimee.dawson@theaustraliatimes.com.au