The Melbourne Vixens reinforced their Super Netball premiership credentials with a thrilling win over the Queensland Firebirds on Saturday.
The Melbourne Vixens claimed a thrilling 66-64 win against the Queensland Firebirds on Saturday to reinforce their Super Netball premiership credentials.
Both teams were tough to split on form but the Firebirds had the upper hand in the first half thanks to an attacking end that was firing on all cylinders.
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The Firebirds played a direct style of netball from the start, transitioning the ball smoothly into their shooting circle.
In the first half, the beautifully weighted Firebirds’ shooting partnership was close to untouchable, with the partnership of Donnell Wallam and Gretel Bueta demanding consideration for the Diamonds at the Commonwealth Games.
Bueta toyed with the Vixens’ defence as she athletically zipped around the shooting circle and expertly orchestrated attacks to set up Wallam.
Former Australian Diamond and Fox Netball commentator Kim Green tweeted: “Bueta is monstering every opposition this season. Can any defender stop her?”
Although Wallam’s scoring ability faded slightly as the game wore on, the Bueta-Jo Weston match up was one of the pivotal battles of the game.
The Vixens frequently reshuffled their line-up as they eventually settled in to the game and clawed into the Firebirds’ lead.
They gained control in the fourth quarter and with the Firebirds struggling to sink their Super Shots, it was the Vixens’ experience in withstanding pressure that proved the ultimate difference in closing out the win.
Wallam attempted a Super Shot in the dying minutes but it missed and the Vixens managed to hold on to claim a nailbiting victory.
Vixens’ co-captain Liz Watson was more expensive than usual with a game high seven turnovers, while both goal defenders — Firebirds’ rising star Ruby Bakewell-Doran and Weston — pulled in crucial gains for their teams.
After a shaky start, Vixens goal shooter Mwai Kumwenda finished with 51/56 at 91 per cent accuracy and was awarded MVP for her performance.
The result ensured the Vixens moved into provisional top spot on the Super Netball ladder midway through Round 8.
Netball fans couldn’t get enough off the epic encounter between two top four teams, labelling it the game of the season.
Stand-in Vixens head coach, Di Honey, described the last quarter as “sensational” and exactly what the coaching staff had asked for.
In the other Saturday game, the Adelaide Thunderbirds kept their season alive with a 51-44 win over the Sunshine Coast Lightning.
—With Jenny Sinclair, NCA NewsWire
Originally published as Super Netball: Melbourne Vixens defeat Queensland Firebirds in ‘game of the season’