Vixens pip Magpies in a thriller
THE Melbourne Vixens have held on to beat Collingwood Magpies 59-58 in a thrilling Super Netball season-opener at Hisense Arena.
The Magpies were poised on Saturday to record their first win over the Vixens, after recovering from an eight-goal deficit in the second quarter to lead by two with less than four minutes to play.
But shooter Mwai Kumwenda scored three of the final four goals of the match for the Vixens to claim victory in an enthralling derby.
The Magpies won three out of four quarters to earn three bonus points under Super Netball's new scoring system, but with defensive pair Emily Mannix and Jo Weston starring it allowed the Vixens to outscore Collingwood 16-9 in the pivotal second quarter.
"I thought it was a really tough, high-quality game," Vixens coach Simone McKinnis said after her side's late comeback victory.
"I thought both sides played exceptionally well at different times. I said to the girls at the end, I was just really proud of the way they worked right to the end until they got that opportunity (to win)."
Kumwenda finished with 41 goals at 98 per cent accuracy. Tegan Philip added 18 goals for the Vixens.
Magpies shooter Caitlin Thwaites connected on 36 shots from 38 attempts and Erin Bell scored 22.
Magpies coach Kristy Keppich-Birrell was happy with her team's performance despite the narrow loss.
"I think it was a brilliant start ... for the fans, not so much for us watching from our perspective," she said.
"But you know, we won three quarters so that's a really telling stat for us that, when we stick to our plan, that it actually works so we are really proud of that."
Looking to record their first win over the Vixens, Collingwood surged to an early 15-10 lead, with Thwaites hitting all 12 goal attempts.
But the Vixens forced three Magpie turnovers in the last five minutes to draw level, before Thwaites nailed a long goal in the final seconds to earn Collingwood the competition's first bonus point for a winning quarter.
The Vixens then turned up the defensive pressure to restrict Collingwood to nine goals in the second quarter, Mannix and Weston at their disruptive best as the home side built a 33-27 half-time lead.
The teams went goal for goal in the third quarter until the Magpies reeled off five of the last seven goals to set up a grandstand finish.
The Magpies will look to bounce back next Saturday against the West Coast Fever in Perth. The Vixens host the NSW Swifts on Sunday week.
MELBOURNE VIXENS 59 (Mwai Kumwenda 41 Tegan Philip 18) MAGPIES NETBALL 58 (Caitlin Thwaites 36 Erin Bell 22) at Hisense Arena.