Vixens down Firebirds, stay unbeaten in Super Netball

Adrian Warren |

Goal shooter Sophie Garbin (l) was a pillar of strength for the Vixens as they beat the Firebirds.
Goal shooter Sophie Garbin (l) was a pillar of strength for the Vixens as they beat the Firebirds.

Unbeaten Melbourne Vixens have withstood a second-half surge from the Queensland Firebirds, pulling away to secure a 68-55 Super Netball home win.

The Vixens won three of the four quarters and were up by as much as 14 in the third, but the spirited young Firebirds got back within four early in the last.

Melbourne reasserted themselves down the stretch and were too clinical and accurate for the visitors.

The Vixens improved to 4-0 while the Firebirds slipped to 1-3 with their largest defeat of the season.

Goal attack Kiera Austin takes a shot for the Vixens. (Rob Prezioso/AAP PHOTOS)

The Vixens were far more reliable with the ball, making just 10 turnovers to the Firebirds’ 22, and pulled off seven more intercepts, with Kate Eddy and Jo Weston each racking up three.

The hosts gave away 17 less penalties and got great drive from Hannah Mundy, Kate Moloney, Eddy and Weston.

“I thought there was some really good passages and some really good play from us throughout that game, a little disappointed in the third quarter but we finished it strong and I’ll take that,” Vixens coach Simone McKinnis told Fox.

“That third quarter we stopped what we had been doing. They brought a lot more intensity in defence.”

Vixens goal shooter Sophie Garbin shot 49 off 57, missing just four of her close-range attempts, and was a pillar of strength for the Vixens.

“She’s so reliable, she’s so composed as well out there,” McKinnis said.

The Firebirds were up 5-3 early, but the Vixens scored four straight on their way to leading 15-13 at quarter time.

With the Vixens surging ahead, Firebirds coach Bec Bulley made two changes halfway through the second quarter.

She brought on veteran Kim Ravaillion at wing defence for Hulita Veve and Emily Moore at goal attack for Tippah Dwan, who had made just one of five shots.

While Moore made her first two shots, the Vixens continued to flourish and led 35-25 at halftime.

The Vixens midcourt applied good pressure and also were more clinical and accurate in feeding their shooters while the Firebirds were too predictable in seeking out Donnell Wallam (39 off 44 shots).

Melbourne swelled their lead to 14 In the third quarter, but the Firebirds boosted their defensive pressure to work their way back into the game.

They scored six straight and Moore (10/11) hit successive Super Shots to get the Firebirds within five in the final minute of the term.

Kiera Austin (10/15) hit a Super Shot to give the Vixens a lead of seven at three-quarter time, but the Firebirds won the term by three.

The Firebirds scored the first three goals of the final quarter, to get back within four, but conceded the next three and the Vixens powered away in the final few minutes.