Swifts v Vixens at Ken Rosewall Arena

Swifts v Vixens at Ken Rosewall Arena Credit: Daniel Coppel

It was a homecoming of the ages for the New South Wales Swifts as they relegated fierce rivals Melbourne Vixens to last.

The New South Swifts’ strong start continued with a dominant 55-43 win over Melbourne Vixens after a standout performance from shooter Sam Wallace at Ken Roswell Arena.

The third round of the Suncorp Super Netball promised to be an interesting affair between the Swifts – who won the 2019 premiership – and the reigning premiers.

The Swifts jumped out to an early start, with Sam Wallace strong under the post off the back of strong feeds as she piled on 16 goals in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, at the other end, Sarah Klau was stout in defence with five gains and one intercept to hold Mwai Kumwenda and the Vixens to just eight goals as a team for the quarter.

Swifts coach Briony Akle said she was very happy to see a large turnout of fans at NSW netball’s new home.

“Swifts fans especially are crying out for netball, and for them to be loyal to us, and to turn out the way they did today, showed the legacy of the team,” she said.

Akle was happy with the team’s performance, particularly Lauren Moore, who played the full 60 minutes today for the first time this season, against the Vixens, who competed hard.

“It was her first full 60 in a long time, but we celebrated that, and that was no easy feat,” said Akle.

“The Vixens are a championship team, and even though they didn’t win today, I’m sure they will come back. I was not comfortable at all that we had won that game.

“Netballers are tough, and it took a tough 60 minutes to get the win today.”

Vixens Coach Simone McKinnis said she was adamant that the team was on the right path despite the tough start to the year.

“We work within our group, and our objective is to get better each week and to learn and grow. Even in our first three losses, even though there has been disappointment, there has been growth,” she said.

“We don’t look at it like [a lost season] at all. It’s been a challenging season, but the ability to improve and grow and learn is really significant in the growth of a team.

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“The Swifts had an excellent start to the game, with the intensity and that burst, and we were the total opposite at the start of the game.”

Coach McKinnis continued to experiment with her front end after young goaler Ruby Barkmeyer started as Kaylia Stanton started from the bench.

Mwai ‘MJ’ Kumwenda continued her fantastic form and was able to show off her agility and court awareness in the GA bib, while Stanton and Barkemeyer were both given chances to play and prove themselves.

Stanton showed glimpses of promise in goal shooter but was too costly with her turnovers. Barkmeyer on the other hand showed flashes of brilliance as she continues to strive for 60 minute performances.

The Vixens made it interesting in the final quarter with a whisper of a comeback, however, it wasn’t to be as the clock ticked down.

Sarah Klau continued her early start and finished with seven gains, and two intercepts, and kept the Vixens shooters in check for the game.

At the other end, Sam Wallace was dominant, with 46 goals, including two super-shots. Her excellent afternoon was helped by Proud, Paige Hadley and Helen Housby, who tallied 70 feeds and 40 goal assists for the afternoon between them.

Akle was glowing in her praise for Wallace after the game.

“She’s a fantastic target, and one of the most intelligent players I’ve coached. She’s done a great job with that,” Akle said.

The Swifts now turn its focus to the Sunshine Coast Lightning next week, and the Vixens will move on to play the Giants.

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