Vixens pressure fading gives Thunderbirds first win

The Melbourne Vixens, who will remain interstate to keep the Super Netball season going, fall six goals short of the Adelaide Thunderbirds on Sunday. (Photo: Melbourne Vixens/Facebook)

Relocated due to the Victorian lockdown, the Melbourne Vixens battled hard but fell six goals short of the Adelaide Thunderbirds, giving the girls in pink their first win for 2021. 

Following their thrilling victory over the Queensland Firebirds last Saturday, the Vixens remained in the Sunshine State to host the Thunderbirds at the University of Sunshine Coast Stadium.

Closing out Round 6, the bottom of the table clash was the second in a double header at the venue. Earlier on Sunday, the Firebirds beat the Sunshine Coast Lightning by 12 goals in the Queensland derby. 

In a scrappy but tight contest, the first half Vixens pressure faded in the third. Adelaide overtook them on the scoreboard and the Vixens never recovered.

Coach Simone McKinnis spoke post-match about the tale of two halves.

“There was some really positive work out there in the first half, but we certainly let that drop,” McKinnis said. 

“Particularly in the first quarter, we set some really high standards defensively and pushed and contested and put the (Thunderbirds) shooters under pressure.

“I just felt that that dropped off, but I felt that pressure across the board dropped off for us,” she said.

The Vixens started strong with Mwai Kumwenda and Rahni Samason in the goal circle again. McKinnis continued switching her shooter’s bibs regularly, as they did against the Firebirds last week, to keep Adelaide’s defence guessing. 

In the third, the Thunderbirds pulled back the margin and snuck in front with a two-point supershot before the buzzer.

Melbourne tried something different to start the final term, injecting speed into the game through Allie Smith, however the mid court switch ups and a late flurry of Super Shots were not enough to recover the deficit.

“We’re up and about the highest level,” McKinnis said.

“It’s the execution across the full 60 minutes that’s missing.”

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Kadie-Ann Dehaney held strong in defence for the Vixens all evening. The Jamaican goal keeper has relished more time on court in the absence of injured Diamond Emily Mannix.

“She started really well. I’m not sure she’s had much game time against Lenize (Potgieter) before,” McKinnis admitted.

Dehaney had the better of Potgieter early, with two deflections and an intercept while her opponent had three turnovers.

“She got straight into it, so that was really good. I thought she was fantastic, particularly in that first half,” McKinnis said.

McKinnis also gave an update on Emily Mannix, who has missed the last two games with a fractured knuckle. 

The goal keeper will go for a follow up appointment on her hand this week and confirm her return date.

“She’s been working really hard away from the court to be ready to come back on, so that’ll be great for us as well,” McKinnis said.

The Vixens meet Victorian rival the Magpies next weekend, though the venue is still to be confirmed. Both clubs remain interstate due to Melbourne’s COVID-19 lockdown.

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