The Melbourne Vixens have outlasted the relentless NSW Swifts to lock up top sot on the ladder after eight Rounds of netball.
On the day Australia’s national team coach was unveiled, the Melbourne Vixens and NSW Swifts have provided the new Diamonds boss with a spectacular showcase of the rich resources at her disposal.
Within hours of the announcement of Stacey Marinkovich becoming the 15th Diamonds coach, the Vixens retained top spot on the table with a gripping 63-60 victory at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena.
Liz Watson and Paige Hadley enhanced their already powerful reputations as the Vixens survived a late fightback from the defending champions in the top of the table clash.
More high quality performances came from defender Jo Weston and her Vixens teammate Mwai Kumwenda, who finished with 46 points.
Hadley could not haul her Swifts across the line but that was no knock on a skilled outfit which used every ounce of depth at its disposal.
“It was the two best teams going at it,” Swifts coach Briony Akle said.
“The quality of netball’s been great considering we weren’t sure about coming into the hub and playing two games a week.”
To beat the Vixens you have to beat Watson and the Swifts gave themselves a chance by tasking Hadley with the job at wing defence. It was a premium duel you would pay big money to see.
Rather than cancelling each other out, every act of brilliance or determination from one was matched by the other in a way that magnified their class.
“I like Paige there at wing defence,” Akle said.
“She provides confidence, she’s really versatile and that’s something cool to have in your team.”
And still Watson was influential.
At one point in the first quarter she was responsible for more circle feeds than the Swifts’ team and the midcourt star ended the contest with 53 feeds and 37 assists.
The Vixens grabbed the advantage in the third quarter thanks largely to the fierce checking of Vixens wing defence Kate Eddy, who worried her former side into a string of possession changes.
Swifts goal attack Helen Housby sat out much of the second half with a corked leg but is not expected to miss Tuesday night’s clash with the Collingwood Magpies.
The Vixens’ next match is against the GIANTS on Tuesday evening.