A PATIENT QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS OUTFIT HAS TURNED ON A FINAL-QUARTER BLITZ TO NOTCH UP AN IMPORTANT 59-55 SUNCORP SUPER NETBALL WIN OVER THE MELBOURNE VIXENS AT HISENSE ARENA.
It was a defensive slugfest in Melbourne, with a soaring penalty account and plenty of contact and frustration. Melbourne Vixens made the best of it early, leading at the first change and holding the Firebirds at bay by as many as four goals until late in the game.
Queensland was measured, though, and grafted their way back into the contest before pouncing in a 16-11 last term.
Both sides wore black armbands into the clash, to honour the life of Australian Netball Hall of Famer Dorothy ‘Dot’ McHugh.
Kate Moloney led out the Vixens, including national teammate Jo Weston who returned from an ankle injury sustained in round two.
The Firebirds welcomed back veteran defender Laura Geitz, who sat out their round two win over the Sunshine Coast Lightning with a back complaint.
The Firebirds lost both clashes with the Vixens in the maiden Suncorp Super Netball season but got an early two-goal advantage in this clash as goal attack Gretel Tippett went aerial to repeatedly find her mark in goal shooter, Romelda Aiken.
Vixens goal shooter Mwai Kumwenda mixed her game up, roaming outside the goal circle which allowed goal attack Tegan Philip to become the focal goal scorer – the move allowing the Vixens to lock the scores up at 10-10 midway through the quarter.
Defensive intensity dictated the tempo of the match, with the Vixens’ patience reaping rewards – the home side going on a 6/7 run to win the quarter 17-14.
A held ball under the hoop proved costly for the Firebirds, assisting the Vixens to push the lead out to 20-16 early in the second quarter.
The Firebirds fought back – at one point to within one goal – but with the Vixens shooting at over 90 per cent it was hard work to reel in the deficit.
Defence frustrated the Firebirds at times, but they peeled off three of the quarter’s last four goals to win the bonus point, with the Vixens leading 31-29 at halftime.
Firebirds skipper Gabi Simpson issued a rallying cry in the third quarter telling her teammates: ‘we don’t hit the floor, they do’.
Her squad responded in a quarter where the defensive pressure ratcheted up several notches, Aiken draining the final goal of the term to win the bonus point and reduce the margin to just 44-43.
Queensland shot the go-ahead goal early in the final quarter and they were not headed for the remainder of the match.
Q1: Vixens 17v14 Firebirds
Q2: Vixens 14v15 Firebirds
Q3: Vixens 13v14 Firebirds
Q4: Vixens 11v16 Firebirds
Suncorp Super Netball Points
Vixens 1 v 7 Firebirds
Vixens shooting statistics
Mwai Kumwenda 29/33
Tegan Philip 26/29
Firebirds shooting statistics
Romelda Aiken 40/47
Gretel Tippett 19/22
Vixens starting seven – GS: Mwai Kumwenda GA: Tegan Philip WA: Liz Watson C: Kate Moloney WD: Chloe Watson GD: Jo Weston GK: Emily Mannix
Firebirds starting seven – GS: Romelda Aiken GA: Gretel Tippett WA: Caitlyn Nevins C: Mahalia Cassidy WD: Gabrielle Simpson GD: Tara Hinchliffe GK: Laura Geitz
photos Janos Schmidt