Melbourne Vixens Mid-Season Review: Premiership defence gone wrong

After winning the 2020 Premiership, the Vixens have only managed one win so far in 2021. (Picture: Melbourne Vixens)

With the second half of the season underway, the Super Netball reviews continue. It’s now time for the Melbourne Vixens mid-season review.

Their 2021 Super Netball campaign couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start.

Liz Watson’s pre-season foot injury ended her season, a huge loss to the mid-court. Emily Mannix has been in and out with a hand issue, while the retirements of Tegan Philip and Caitlin Thwaites have certainly been felt.

The new additions have been positive, but it hasn’t been the same Vixens that conquered the Fever last year.

What’s worked?

The kids. While the outs to experienced players have hurt the Vixens in 2021, it’s given the opportunity to launch a rebuild-esque season.

Rahni Samason is one who’s taken the bull by the horns as a replacement player, playing every game since her stunning debut. She’s growing in confidence in goal attack as the weeks go by.

Ruby Barkmeyer hasn’t played as many games, but has shown what she can do either in goal shooter or goal attack coming off the bench.

Allie Smith has locked down a spot in the side after signing on again this year, while Hannah Mundy is sharing time in the mid-court with Kate Moloney nicely.

Smith completes Vixens roster - Suncorp Super Netball
Allie Smith is already a premiership Vixen, and is continuing to build through the mid-court. (Photo: Suncorp Super Netball)

What hasn’t?

A lot. You don’t reach the bottom of the ladder for no reason, and there’s plenty that has gone wrong for the Vixens so far.

The youth has been exposed on plenty of occasions, incredibly noticeably so when you compare last year’s grand final performance to the round one rematch against the Fever.

Moloney couldn’t find options forward of centre, leading to turnovers. The Vixens held the early lead, but dropped it as the Fever ran out 14-goal winners.

Whether it be giving up early leads, fading out of games or just being unable to hold on late, it’s been a frustrating season for the Vixens across all areas of the court.

Season highlight:

Undoubtedly the peak of the Vixens’ season was their one and only win in round five, against the Firebirds.

They trailed by eight goals at the quarter time break, but were back in touching distance of the win coming into the final term.

There was no time left on the clock, but the hero was ready. In her debut for the Vixens, Samason scored the winning Super Shot to clutch out the game.

It was a day to remember for the young goal attack, shooting at 93.1 per cent (including 8/10 for Super Shots), making 10 assists and 16 feeds.

Goal shooter Mwai Kumwenda was also vital in the circle, scoring 31 goals at 90 per cent.

More SSN Mid-Season Reviews

Collingwood Magpies Mid-Season Review: Things are on the up

Sunshine Coast Lightning Mid-Season Review: In the box seat

NSW Swifts Mid-Season Review: Holding steady at home

Season lowlight:

The loss to cross-town rivals Collingwood left coach Simone McKinnis without a single positive thing to say about her struggling side.

In a 16-goal demolition, the Vixens never looked in it at any point.

While scores were level at the quarter-time break, the Vixens continued to fade as the game went on, the lead constantly increasing.

Nine turnovers didn’t help their case either, Kate Moloney, Allie Smith and Hannah Mundy struggling to find connection with the forward third.

Looking forward:

The postponement of the Vixens’ clash with the Fever due to border restrictions has left them with another game against a strong opponent come the end of the year.

With games being relocated to Melbourne for at least this upcoming weekend, this could work in their favour. Saturday’s match against the top of the table Lightning was originally schedule at Nissan Arena, now at John Cain instead.

Unfortunately though, even at home, it’s hard to see the Vixens winning any of their next three games against the top four Lightning, Swifts and Giants.

A home game against the Firebirds might add one more win to the tally, but it’s still no guarantee.

Predicted finish:

Eighth. Keep playing the kids, and watch them grow week by week Vixens fans.

The next month will be a hard one, but will ultimately make this Melbourne team stronger for the future.

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About Alex Catalano 190 Articles
Alex is a studying journalist from Melbourne with an obsession for all things Aussie rules. From the elite level to the local leagues, you can find him either attending, writing or speaking about the sport seven days a week. Alex also writes about football, basketball, netball and esports.

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