Melbourne Vixens have booked a spot in the Suncorp Super Netball finals with a dominant 66-55 win over Queensland Firebirds at Hisense Arena last night.

In the first game of a double header, the Vixens were clinical across all four quarters while Firebirds strung some good netball together but struggled to do it across a full sixty minutes; they buckled under defensive pressure.

Photo: Grant Treeby

Vixens coach Simone McKinnis was happy to get another win, but identified one particular area that her team need to work on heading into finals.

“That was hard work though tonight, it was really was as it always is against Firebirds,” said McKinnis.

“I think there was still moments, I was a little disappointed in the first half (where) there were some more little errors that we haven’t been making which gave ball back a little bit.

“I thought the girls worked really hard from the start, I just didn’t think the girls converted the ball as well as have in the past.”

No team wins a game of netball based on how they perform in one quarter and McKinnis was impressed with how her charges were able maintain to consistency.

“The girls did a really good job of maintaining that intensity across the game, although we let it slip in that last quarter.”

“I’m happy to get that win because I know what Firebirds are capable of and I knew their back were against the wall.”

The match started at a frenetic pace with a strong feature being pinpoint feeding to Vixens Malawian import shooter Mwai Kumwenda, who has switched across to Vixens after a stint in New Zealand. While the Firebirds took a while to find their feet, the defensive pressure of goal defence Jo Weston was too much as she pulled in some tough intercepts. The scoreboard was no indication of just how physical the opening stanza was as the Vixens led 19-15 at quarter time.

Vixens continued to be the better team as the second quarter wore on, even if Firebirds did attempt to play their way back into the game. There were some superb passages of play as Vixens ramped it up and kept playing a slick fast style that the Firebirds were not able to counteract. The ball was won continually in the midcourt as the defensive grip tightened from the Vixens as they held a 37-28 half time lead.

A strong 10-goal lead was built early and there were again more pressure from the Vixens defensive end, the Firebirds were simply unable to match them as they led 51-37.

There was no looking back in the last quarter as the Vixens continued to dominate and some costly Firebirds turnovers were pounced upon. The home side virtually scored off each one and when it was in the Firebirds shooting circle it was a matter of ball being intercepted or shot under pressure.

Kumwenda, in her 50th national league match, shot 43 goals at a healthy 91 per cent accuracy, with Tegan Philip chiming in with 23 goals  – Philip worked hard to create opportunities not just for herself but also her shooting partner.

For the Firebirds, Aiken with 42 goals at 79 per cent shot well in patches but appeared to be a little bit off at different stages of the game.

Weston was outstanding in defence, in combination with Emily Mannix. but while Aiken was able to score goals consistently, the defensive pressure restricted supply of ball into the usually dominant Jamaican international.

The Vixens run home sees them face Giants in Canberra, host Adelaide Thunderbirds at Margaret Court Arena before rounding out the season with a trip west to face the Fever at Perth Arena.

 

Melbourne Vixens 66 def Queensland Firebirds 55
Player of the Match:
Jo Weston (Vixens)

 

Melbourne Vixens
Kumwenda 43/47 91%
Philip 23/27 85%
66/74 89%

Queensland Firebirds
Aiken 42/53 79%
Tippett 9/14 64%
Latu-Meafou 4/4 100%
55/57 96%

 

Twitter: @bcarbonaro85
Photos: Grant Treeby