Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip will have fitting farewells after their Melbourne Vixens stormed into the 2020 grand final with a 63-47 win over the Sunshine Coast Lightning.
The minor premiers’ crushing major semi-final victory at the Sunshine Coast’s USC Stadium highlighted the class gap between the Vixens andnthe rest and ensured a shot at a fairytale finish for goalers Thwaites and Philip who will retire after the grand final.
Emily Mannix led a defensive trio who caused havoc for the Lightning’s attackers.
The Vixens goal keeper pocketed eight gains, including four intercepts, and no Lightning combination could pierce the wall of pressure she built in the defensive third.
“It hasn’t quite sunk in. The Vixens made the grand final in 2014 and I started in 2015,” Mannix said
“I can’t believe we’ve got here, it’s bloody unreal.”
Thwaites sank 25 from 28 and Mwai Kumwenda had 31 goals at 96 per cent to help her side into the title decider on October 18 in Brisbane.
The Lightning will live to fight again in next weekend’s preliminary final against the winner of Sunday’s knockout between West Coast Fever and the NSW Swifts.
“The Vixens put a clinic on us,” Lightning goal attack Steph Wood said.
Sunshine Coast’s reputation as a sloppy starter was once again on show. They fell behind by 14 points at halftime as the Vixens appeared unruffled by the game day withdrawal of defender Kate Eddy with a foot injury.
The Vixens even powered through the temporary absence of co-captain Kate Moloney when she was treated for an ankle problem in the second quarter.
They were ruthless when punishing Lightning errors, scoring from 83 per cent of possession gains to seize control in the first half.
Sunshine Coast defender Phumza Maweni lifted her side with a handful of hard-won possessions in the third term but by then the damage was done.
Q1: Vixens 18 v Lightning 13
Q2: Vixens 16 v Lightning 7
Q3: Vixens 16 v Lightning 10
Q4: Vixens 13 v Lightning 17
Nissan Player of The Match – Emily Mannix (Melbourne Vixens)
Vixens shooting statistics
Caitlin Thwaites: Total points 30 – G1 20/21 (95%) G2 5/7 (71%)
Mwai Kumwenda: Total points 31 – G1 31/31 (100%) G2 0/1 (0%)
Tegan Philip: Total points 2 – G1 2/3 (67%) G2 0/3 (0%)
Lightning shooting statistics
Cara Koenen: Total points – 25 G1 23/25 (92%) G2 1/2 (50%)
Steph Wood: Total points – 22 G1 16/16 (100%) G2 3/7 (43%)
Peace Proscovia: Total points – 0 G1 0/1 (0%) G2 0/0 (0%)
Vixens starting seven: GS – Mwai Kumwenda GA – Caitlin Thwaites WA – Liz Watson C – Kate Moloney WD – Ellie Smith GD – Jo Weston GK – Emily Mannix
Lightning starting seven: GS – Cara Koenen GA – Steph Wood WA – Laura Scherian C – Laura Langman WD – Jacqui Russell GD – Karla Pretorius GK – Phumza Maweni