Vixens gain Super Netball revenge over Lightning

Adrian Warren |

The Vixens’ Sophie Garbin scored 37 goals in her side’s win over the Sunshine Coast Lightning.
The Vixens’ Sophie Garbin scored 37 goals in her side’s win over the Sunshine Coast Lightning.

The ladder-leading Melbourne Vixens have avenged their only loss of the Super Netball season with a hard-fought 63-61 away win over the Sunshine Coast Lightning.

Melbourne never relinquished the lead in the second half on Saturday, but had their advantage slashed to just one goal in a nerve-rattling final quarter.

It was the Vixens’ third straight win since they lost 64-57 at home to the Lightning. The result moved them eight points clear at the top of the standings.

Melbourne surged to a nine-goal lead in the third, but the Lightning hit the only three Super Shots of the quarter to move within three at the final change.

The Vixens scored the first four goals of the fourth quarter to extend their buffer to seven, but the Lightning outscored the away team 8-2 to move within one halfway through the period.

The Lightning had a chance to hit the lead with four and a half minutes left, but Reilley Batcheldor was off-target with a Super Shot.

They didn’t get another opportunity because the Vixens scored the next three goals to close out the game, despite losing the final quarter 11-10 and the second half by one.

“Right from the first quarter it was high-intensity, high-quality, and I thought ‘this is going to be on for young and old’, and it was,” Vixens coach Simone McKinnis told Fox Sport after the match.

“I was probably a little disappointed that we got a little erratic and ill-disciplined and got caught up perhaps in the franticness of things and out of play too much, but there was some great pressure there throughout the game.”

The Lightning could drop out of fourth spot if either or both of the Swifts and Mavericks have big wins on Sunday.

Sophie Garbin, who had scored 51 goals in each of her previous two games, made 37 of 41 attempts, and her Vixens shooting colleague Kiera Austin 22 of 29.

For the Lightning, Cara Koenen converted all 21 of her attempts, Steph Fretwell made 25 of 31, including five of seven Super Shots, and Batcheldor seven of 10.

Lightning wing attack and Diamonds captain Liz Watson consistently challenged the Vixens, notching a game-high 25 goal assists.

Sunshine Coast goalkeeper and new Diamonds squad member Ashleigh Ervin tallied eight deflections.

Little separated the two teams in the first quarter, with neither side leading by more than three, and the Vixens up by one at the first change.

The Lightning never led after the first quarter and the Vixens inched ahead by five late in the second, but a Fretwell Super Shot cut the gap to three at halftime, with the visitors retaining their advantage for the final 30 minutes.

“They beat us last time and I think knowing that we can beat them is going to be important going into finals,” Vixens captain and midcourter Kate Moloney told Fox.

“It wasn’t pretty at times, but we got the win in a tough game and that’s something to be really proud of.”