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Strong first half sees NSW Swifts home against Vixens

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The NSW Swifts remain top of the Suncorp Super Netball ladder after a strong 57-51 win over old rivals the Melbourne Vixens at Sydney Olympic Park’s Quaycentre on Saturday night.

The win means the Swifts now sit four points clear of the second-placed Sunshine Coast Lightning and 10 clear of the third-placed Vixens.

A powerful first half in which the Swifts set the tone of the game proved decisive as Briony Akle’s team saw off a fast-finishing Victorian outfit.

The win also meant the Swifts won back the Sargeant-McKinnis Cup, which the teams contest annually, for the first time since 2016.

A sloppy start by the visitors allowed the Swifts to race out to an early 5-1 lead, the home team taking advantage of uncharacteristic errors by the Victorians.

The Vixens started to find their way into the game soon after with good defence by Emily Mannix, and Jo Weston providing a healthy flow of possession of missed shots by the Swifts attacking duo of Sam Wallace and Sophie Garbin.

In what was a stop-start first quarter with both defences pressing hard on the attackers, the Swifts just held sway to take a two-goal advantage (12-10) to the break.

The home team put in a fine stint in the second quarter with a wonderful Sarah Klau intercept, good scrapping from Maddy Turner and a beautiful long-range Paige Hadley pass to Wallace under the post the highlights as they took a grip on the game to seal another bonus point.

The Swifts won the quarter 16-11 and took a seven-goal lead to the sheds at halftime - 28-21.

As expected the intensity lifted yet again when the players hit the court for the second half. Unlike the second period this was a much tighter affair as the teams went end-to-end with neither finding an easy route to goal.

The Vixens, who introduced Mwai Kumwenda to goal shooter instead of Caitlin Thwaites for the second half, were looking stronger in attack but unable to secure the vital turnovers to make inroads into the Swifts’ lead.

The home side just managed to take the third bonus point, however, to bring their haul to three before the last break.

With an eight-goal lead heading into the fourth quarter the Swifts simply had to hold their nerve to take the win. Paige Hadley and Katrina Rore looked to calm the game down when Kumwenda converted two quick turnovers to get the Vixens back within four with less than five minutes remaining, but their rally came too late.

They did take the final bonus point but it was the Swifts who took seven to stay on top of the Super Netball ladder with two regular season round games to go.

Next up, the Swifts travel to Tasmania to face the Collingwood Magpies in Launceston on Saturday.

Quarter by Quarter scores

SWIFTS | Q1: 12, Q2: 28 (16), Q3: 43 (15), Q4: 57 (14)

VIXENS | Q1: 10, Q2: 21 (11), Q3: 35 (14), Q4: 51 (16)

Stating Teams

SWIFTS | GS Sam Wallace, GA Sophie Garbin, WA Natalie Haythornthwaite, C Paige Hadley, WD Katrina Rore, GD Maddy Turner, GS Sarah Klau

VIXENS | GS Caitlin Thwaites, GA Tegan Philip, WA Liz Watson, C Kate Moloney, WD Renae Ingles, GD Jo Weston, GK Emily Mannix

Shooting Stats

SWIFTS: 57/67 @ 85%

S Wallace: 45/49 @ 92%

S Garbin: 12/18 @ 67%

VIXENS: 51/61 @ 84%

C Thwaites: 9/11 @ 82%

T Philip: 24/30 @ 80%

M Kumwenda: 18/20 @ 90%

MVP: Sam Wallace (Swifts)

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