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MELBOURNE VIXENS (63) DEFEATED GIANTS NETBALL (58)

The Melbourne Vixens have continued their impressive start to the Suncorp Super Netball season, finishing on top of the GIANTS to win 63-58 on the Sunshine Coast.The ladder leaders flexed their muscles in the second half of Sunday’s clash at USC Stadium to claim their fifth victory of the season and emerge as the team to beat for the 2020 title.

Keen to put the events of their controversial Round 5 loss to the Sunshine Coast Lightning behind them, the GIANTS showed plenty of spirit in the first half with a flawless shooting performance from goaler Kiera Austin inspiring them to a 36-31 lead.

But a big third quarter from Mwai Kumwenda swung the match back in Melbourne’s favour and the class of midcourters Kate Moloney and Liz Watson shone through in the finish.

“We knew they were going to come out strong, especially after their game last week (when defender Kristiana Manu’a was controversially sent off),” Moloney said after the win.

“We knew that we just had to hang in there and if we could do that, we would get over the top. For us, it’s something we haven’t been able to do in the past so I’m really proud of the girls for staying in the contest and being able to finish it off at the end.”

GIANTS coach Julie Fitzgerald left Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett out of her starting seven and Austin repaid the faith with a dynamic 15-of-15 shooting performance in the first half, including four Suncorp Super Shots.

Down by five at half-time, Melbourne coach Simone McKinnis sent Kumwenda into the contest and the Malawi-born goaler delivered with 12 goals and three Suncorp Super Shots as the Vixens won a high-scoring third quarter 24-17 to regain the momentum.

Austin added another four Suncorp Super Shots in the third period but she was unable to maintain her perfect shooting record through the fourth quarter as the Vixens closed out the win.

The Vixens now prepare to take on the Adelaide Thunderbirds at Nissan Arena on Wednesday, looking to atone against the only team to beat them so far this season, while the GIANTS play the Queensland Firebirds on Tuesday.

Score breakdown
Q1: Vixens 15 v GIANTS 14
Q2: Vixens 11 v GIANTS 17
Q3: Vixens 24 v GIANTS 17
Q4: Vixens 13 v GIANTS 10

Nissan Player of The Match – Kate Moloney (Melbourne Vixens)

Vixens shooting statistics
Caitlin Thwaites: Total points – 25 G1 – 23/23 (100%) G2 – 1/5 (20%)
Tegan Philip: Total points – 10 G1 – 6/7 (86%) G2 – 2/5 (40%)
Mwai Kumwenda: Total points – 28 G1- 22/24 (89%) G2 – 3/4 (75%)

GIANTS shooting statistics
Jo Harten: Total points – 20 G1 – 14/16 (87%) G2 -3/6 (50%)
Kiera Austin: Total points – 38 G1 – 22/25 (88%) G2 – 8/9 (89%)

Vixens starting seven: GS – Caitlin Thwaites GA – Tegan Philip WA – Liz Watson C – Kate Moloney WD – Kate Eddy GD – Jo Weston GK – Emily Mannix

GIANTS starting seven: GS – Jo Harten GA – Kiera Austin WA – Maddie Hay C – Jamie-Lee Price WD – Amy Parmenter GD – Kristiana Manu’a GK – Sam Poolman