The Melbourne Vixens bolstered their credentials as the premier Super Netball with a thrilling win over the Queensland Firebirds on Saturday.
The Melbourne Vixens cruised to a thrilling 66-64 win over the Queensland Firebirds on Saturday to cement their credentials as Super Netball’s premiership.
The two teams were hard to separate on form, but the Firebirds had the upper hand in the first half thanks to an offensive wing that was firing on all cylinders.
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The Firebirds played a direct style of netball early on, moving the ball smoothly into their shooting circle.
In the first half, the Firebirds’ beautifully weighted shooting partnership was nearly untouchable, with the partnership of Donnell Wallam and Gretel Bueta demanding consideration for diamonds at the Commonwealth Games.
Bueta toyed with the Vixens defense as she athletically spun around the shooting circle and expertly orchestrated attacks to set up Wallam.
Former Australian Diamond and Fox Netball commentator Kim Green tweeted: “Bueta is beating all opposition this season. Can a defender stop him?
Although Wallam’s goalscoring ability dwindled slightly as the game progressed, the Bueta-Jo Weston game was one of the crucial battles of the game.
The Vixens frequently shuffled their roster as they finally settled into the game and clung to the Firebirds’ lead.
They took control in the fourth quarter and with the Firebirds struggling to sink their Super Shots, it was the Vixens’ experience of withstanding the pressure that proved the ultimate difference in closing out victory.
Wallam attempted a Super Shot in the final minutes but missed and the Vixens hung on for a resounding victory.
Vixens co-captain Liz Watson was more expensive than usual with seven turnovers, while both goalkeepers – Firebirds rising star Ruby Bakewell-Doran and Weston – made crucial wins for their teams .
After a shaky start, Vixens goalkeeper Mwai Kumwenda finished with 51/56 at 91% accuracy and was named MVP for her performance.
The result saw the Vixens take the provisional top spot on the Super Netball ladder midway through round eight.
Netball fans couldn’t get enough of the epic encounter between two of the top four teams, calling it the game of the season.
Vixens replacement head coach Di Honey described the final quarter as “sensational” and exactly what the coaching staff had asked for.
In Saturday’s other game, the Adelaide Thunderbirds kept their season alive with a 51-44 victory over the Sunshine Coast Lightning.
—With Jenny Sinclair, NCA NewsWire