Vixens hold off Thunderbirds in Super Netball clash, Lightning take down Swifts

The Melbourne Vixens have survived a thorough examination from Super Netball’s strongest defence to post a 53-47 victory against the Adelaide Thunderbirds at John Cain Arena.

In Saturday’s earlier match, the Sunshine Coast Lightning’s resurrection as a premiership force gained momentum with a 69-62 win over defending champions NSW Swifts at Sydney’s Ken Rosewall Arena. 

In Melbourne, the Thunderbirds’ star Jamaican goal keeper Shamera Sterling failed to disrupt the patient Vixens, who tightened their grip on the top two with their fifth win of the season.

Sterling finished with a final-quarter flurry but her two intercepts — below her four-per-game average — was evidence of a disciplined Vixens outfit who took great care to minimise risk in the vicinity of the Thunderbirds ball winner.

“It was a bit more clinical this week,” Vixens goal attack Kiera Austin said.

“There’s a few things we still need to clean up … and we were glad to keep [Sterling] out of the game.”

The low-scoring game was painfully slow at times but that was a credit to the home side who had a clear plan against the Thunderbirds’ athletic defence.

Austin shone at both ends of the court with 11 goals, two super shots, 13 assists and a game-high three intercepts.

While statistically not their best game, defenders Jo Weston, Kate Eddy and Emily Mannix applied pressure that slowly wore down the Thunderbirds.

Adelaide is now on shaky ground after a fourth consecutive loss following two wins to open the season.

The absence of Vixens leader Kate Moloney due to Covid-19 protocols and Thunderbird import Lenize Potgieter (knee injury) created a stage for a couple of understudies to step up.

The Thunderbirds’ Lucy Austin (17 goals, one super shot) impressed on debut.

Lightning down Swifts

Laura Scherian on attack for the Lightning during their win over the Swifts.(AAP: James Gourley)

After stumbling in the opening two rounds, the Lightning are once again roaring after consecutive victories against the previous two champions.

They defeated the Vixens last week.

With Steph Wood (seven goals, one super shot) uncharacteristically quiet on Saturday, the Lightning needed spark from elsewhere.

They found it from goal shooter Cara Koenen (48 goals at 98 per cent), defender Tara Hinchliffe and teenager Reilley Batcheldor, who produced a stunning nine-minute third-term blitz to put her side into the competition top four.

“It was a bit ugly at times from us,” Koenen said.

“We hadn’t won two consecutive games yet so this was a crucial one for us.”

Swifts captain Maddy Proud set aside the disappointment of being overlooked for the Diamonds squad to notch a game-high 57 feeds.

A brave performance from defender Sarah Klau aside, the Swifts could not win enough ball in the second half to supply shooters Helen Housby (26 goals, five super shots) and Sophie Fawns (20 goals, one super shot).

AAP

Reference-www.abc.net.au

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