Melbourne deliver defeat to Southland
The Melbourne Vixens have all but secured the trans-Tasman netball league's minor premiership with a comprehensive 56-38 victory over the Southern Steel in Invercargill this afternoon.
With the Vixens and Mystics jostling it out for top spot on the ladder and hosting rights for next week's major semi-final, the Melburnians knew it was imperative to pour in the goals and pick up a victory over the Steel.
Their win takes them up to 20 competition points and virtually guarantees top spot on the ladder, barring a landslide win by the Mystics against the Swifts in Auckland tomorrow.
Steel's loss caps off a disappointing season for the rebuilding Southland-Otago franchise, who won just two of their 13 outings. They lost 10 consecutive games to finish their campaign, after making a bright start to the season, where they won two of their first three games.
Leading by 14 goals at halftime, the Vixens appeared to have the game in the bag, but Steel gave themselves a glimmer of hope landing the first three goals of the third quarter.
The Steel cut the Vixens' lead back down to 10 midway through the term, but normal order resumed shortly afterwards, with the Vixens finishing the quarter with a flourish, going on a 7-1 run.
If Steel were any chance of upsetting the table-topping Vixens, they needed to make a strong start to the game, but that was never able to happen.
The Vixens came out with a ton of intensity to begin the game, jumping out to a staggering 14-2 lead, with midcourters Madison Browne and Chelsey Tregear doing an excellent job of whipping the ball accurately through to their shooting end.
Steel were their own worst enemy, committing seven turnovers in the opening quarter. The southerners struggled on attack against the physical Vixens' back three of Bianca Chatfied, Geva Mentor and Julie Corletto, who were a menace, forcing several turnovers with their intense pressure on defence.
Things went from bad to worse to start the second quarter for Steel, with the Vixens scoring four goals in succession to blow their advantage out to 21-6.
With the Steel team devoid of answers out on court, coaches Janine Southby and Natalie Avellino went to their bench, bringing on young shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit, with Jodi Brown switching to wing attack.
Selby-Rickit made an instant impact, landing her first three attempts, and gave the Vixens' defenders something extra to think about with her 1.88m height factor.
The Vixens refused to let up in the final quarter, with their advantage ballooning out to 22 goals with eight minutes to play.
With the result confirmed, Vixens coach Julie Hoornweg used the opportunity to give Tregear and shooter Karyn Howarth a deserved breather, inserting Kave Beveridge and Sarah Wall into the action.
The Vixens' unheralded shooting duo of Howarth and Tegan Caldwell had impressive showings, both shooting above 87 per cent on the day. Diamonds' midcourter Browne continued her fine season with a workaholic effort at wing attack.
Quarter scores: (Vixens first) 17-6, 31-17, 44-26, 56-38
Steel: Donna Wilkins: 14/16 (88 per cent); Jodi Brown: 3/5 ( 60 per cent); Te Paea Selby-Rickit: 21/28 (75 per cent)
Vixens: Karyn Howarth: 26/30 (87 per cent); Tegan Caldwell: 26/28 (93 per cent); Kate Beveridge: 4/4 (100 per centr)
- © Fairfax NZ News