NSW Swifts maintain surge towards finals

DESPITE being injury ravaged, the NSW Swifts claimed their ninth win of the season with a six-goal victory over the Melbourne Vixens on the weekend, 57-51. The Swifts were electric from the start with their connections down court on song while their defensive pressure simply smothered the Vixens throughout the match keeping them to their second lowest first quarter score.

NSW set the tone early with the connection in the goal circle causing all sorts of trouble in the opening couple of minutes for the Vixens who struggled to combat the offensive pressure. Sam Wallace stood tall under the post while also getting on the move to allow youngster Sophie Garbin to drive through and create space in the goal circle. Garbin got plenty of ball early helping to set up attacking forays and dishing off pinpoint passes to her shooting counterpart. But the Vixens drew back momentum credit to Emily Mannix and Jo Weston lifting their intensity and regaining possession for their side. The two built into the game rotating through the defensive goal circle, setting up strong plays to create confusion and pick off errant passes with three gains and two intercepts apiece. Up the other end Tegan Philip registered her 1000th Suncorp Super Netball goal showcasing her range and confidence to shoot from anywhere in the circle while also doing a wealth of work out the front. As both sides tried to claim ascendancy the ball ebbed and flowed up and down the court with neither side able to gain complete control but the Swifts hot start ultimately earned them the first bonus point.

After being challenged in the first quarter the Swifts took control late in the second term piling on 16 goals to 11 edging out to a seven goal lead at half time. Both Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner put on a masterclass in defence limiting Caitlin Thwaites’ influence under the post and ultimately forcing her to the bench. The Diamonds goal shooter only managed five goals from seven attempts in the second quarter with both Klau and Turner clogging up space and pushing her off balance while racking up four gains, one intercept and two deflections collectively. With Thwaites, unable to find her usual space and accuracy, Malawi shooter Mwai Kumwenda pulled on the goal shooter bib and immediately imposed herself nailing two goals. Through the midcourt Paige Hadley stood up for the Swifts taking strong drives and controlling the attacking third with her patience and clever ball movement. For the Vixens midcourt, Liz Watson was down on her usual output well held by Silver Fern Katrina Rore who managed to keep her away from the circle edge. Watson struggled to have the same impact but did deliver pinpoint passes when she had ball in hand credit to her read of the play, skill and experience.

With a commanding lead the Swifts continued their merry way controlling the tempo and making the most of their opportunities across the court. In a low scoring game dictated by defence Kadie-Ann Dehaney made her way onto the court in goal keeper. The Jamaican defender picked up one gain, one intercept and two deflections for the term thanks to her read of the play and cleanliness to contest each pass. Although Rore did not feature highly on the stats sheet she did a truckload of work through the middle third to transition the ball from one third to another. Rore’s efforts were equally rivalled by Renae Ingles with the veteran wing defence showing great composure and decision making to pierce the ball through the defence and apply good hands over pressure for the Vixens.

The Swifts all but had the win in the bag but the Vixens fought back to claim the final bonus point of the game. Captain, Kate Moloney had a big last quarter running hard both ways and feeding into Kumwenda and Philip with ease while also doing the defensive things well. Natalie Haythornthwaite was crucial through the midcourt with her timing and feeds while coming out hard at the centre pass with 10 receives. Mannix re-entered the game out in goal defence forcing Weston to the bench in hope to create confusion in the Swifts attack end but it was to no avail with the Swifts unfazed by the change-up. Wallace led the way with 45 goals from 49 attempts at 92 per cent while Garbin struggled for accuracy but still posted 12 from 18. For the Vixens, Philip was the go to girl with 24 from 30 at 80 per cent.

STARTING LINE-UP:

NSW Swifts:

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

Melbourne Vixens:

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

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