Cox shoots hot as Swifts defeat Vixens
Sydney shooter Catherine Cox consigned Melbourne to their second straight loss with a stunning performance as the Swifts ran out 56-42 winners in their trans-Tasman netball league top of the table clash.
In front of 6,928 fans at Acer Arena, a record crowd for an ANZ Championship home and away fixture, the Swifts led from the opening whistle and withstood a third-quarter fight-back to continue their unbeaten charge through the competition.
Australian goal-shooter and team captain Cox led by example, shooting at 100 per cent until midway through the third quarter when she missed her first goal.
Cox finished with a game high 29 goals from 31 attempts, at 94 per cent.
Delighted Swifts coach Julie Fitzgerald paid tribute to the veteran, who was only averaging 69 per cent of goals heading into the match, still troubled by an ankle injury which sidelined her for most of last year's international program.
"I'm so happy for her because she's worked very, very hard on her rehab," Fitzgerald said of Cox.
"It's so refreshing to have her come back and play so well.
"I was so pleased to be able to get it together in such a vital game for us."
Following Melbourne's shock 21-goal loss to the Queensland Firebirds last round, the visitors still looked out of sorts in the opening half, and trailed 29-21 at the main break.
With regular centre Natasha Chokljat still sidelined through injury, wing defence Renae Hallinan moved into the centre circle and Brooke Thompson to wing defence but the new midcourt combinations struggled early on, with a high turnover rate.
Fitzgerald said it was important for her team to get off to a strong start, with the Swifts hitting the first four goals of the match to lead 17-10 at the end of the first quarter.
"I'd say they would have been lacking a little bit of confidence from last week and I think the fact that we started off so well would have knocked them around a little bit," she said.
However as co-captain Sharelle McMahon showed her trademark steely determination, the Vixens clawed their way back and actually took the lead 40-39 three minutes into the final period.
It was short-lived with the Swifts immediately lifting to again hit the front, with steady goal attack Susan Pratley also chiming in with some timely goals.
In the end the Sydney-siders were comfortable winners, posting a run of eight unanswered points before they closed out the match.
Melbourne coach Julie Hoornweg was bitterly disappointed by the performance, despite the third-quarter fight-back.
"They worked so hard to get there but they weren't able to maintain that for long periods of time," she said.
She wasn't concerned about the margins of their recent losses, which came after a run of 19 victories, saying the game's "so fast so it's not much at all".
Hoornweg said it looked like Chokljat, who has a calf injury, would miss their next match, when they host the West Coast Fever, as she was yet to train.
Hoornweg wouldn't comment on reports shooter Caitlin Thwaites missed the Firebirds match for disciplinary reasons.
Thwaites finished with 23 goals from 26 attempts against the Swifts.