GIANTS Netball have bounced back to form in emphatic fashion to defeat the Melbourne Vixens, 56-52, at Canberra’s AIS Arena.
It was a confidence-boosting performance from the hosts who had control of the match for the majority of the 60 minutes, and the result sees them leapfrog their opponents into top spot on the Suncorp Super Netball Ladder.
Head Coach Julie Fitzgerald paid tribute to both the players and ACT home crowd, admitting it was a satisfying feeling to now lead the competition.
“It feels fantastic (to win) I think we played superbly today and hung on no matter what pressure the Vixens put us under. It was just impressive,” Fitzgerald said.
“The discipline to which we were able to play today I thought was really good. It’s right up there with our best performance on the season so far; particularly our defence – it was just superb against, who I believe, is the form side of the competition.
“The crowd today were unbelievable – they really gave us that extra gear when times were tough. We love our ACT Members and Fans, and it was terrific to be able to reward them with a win because they really helped us out on court.”
The GIANTS enjoyed a strong start to the game on their home court, with Fitzgerald throwing a selection curve ball by switching shooting combination Susan Pettitt and Jo Harten from their traditional roles. The switch worked a dream as the GIANTS quickly pushed out to a 9-3 advantage, resulting in the Vixens calling for their first tactical timeout.
The break proved handy for the visitors who were able to pull back the deficit, but they had little answers for the Pettitt/Harten combination who continued to dictate action in the GIANTS’ circle. With their defensive teammates doing equally as well down back, the hosts were able to take their lead into the first break.
The quality side they are, the Vixens weren’t going to continue playing second fiddle and emerged from the break with renewed vigour. A few costly mistakes by the GIANTS allowed the visitors back within two goals, but they were hard earned as the host’s defensive pressure was suffocating.
But the GIANTS settled to find their opening quarter form; Serena Guthrie doing a mountain of work at Centre to help her side at both ends of the court. A late tactical timeout allowed the GIANTS to regather and with seconds to spare denied the Vixens a scoring opportunity to take 28-25 lead into the big break.
While it looked to be business as usual as the second half commenced, the GIANTS found an extra gear after five minute’s play and soon had pushed their lead back out to six goals. Sam Poolman and Bec Bulley were ferocious in their defensive pressure, leading to uncharacteristic handling errors from Vixens GS Mwai Kumwenda – a tactical timeout from the visitors in the final five minutes resulted in a personnel change up front with Emma Ryde being introduced at GS.
While Ryde was able to have the achieved effect of providing the Vixens with a tall target in the circle, it was the GIANTS who finished strongest to extend their lead to seven goals as the contest moved into the final 15 minutes.
After introducing Ryde late in the third quarter, the Vixens made wholesale changes to their line-up for the final term – welcoming back Kumwenda to GS while moving Watts to WD, Liz Watson to C and Captain Kate Moloney to WD.
The changes reinvigorated the visitors who outscored the GIANTS five goals to one to open quarter. But if it rattled the GIANTS they didn’t show it, as the hosts regathered to find connections across the court. The defenders in particularly stood up to the Vixens’ challenge, with Guthrie taking a crucial intercept to swing momentum back to her side – something the English international is quickly building a reputation for.
In the end the GIANTS’ hunger for the ball proved game-changing as Price, Guthrie and Bulley claimed intercepts in the final minutes to help set up a four goal victory at the Club’s final ACT game of the season.
The GIANTS will return to Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre this Friday night, 19 May to host the QLD Firebirds for the opening game of Round 13. There are still seats available so head to Ticketek TODAY and help cheer on the mighty GIANTS against their QLD rivals > SECURE YOUR SEATS HERE.
MVP: Bec Bulley (GIANTS)
GIANTS | Q1: 15 – Q2: 28 (13) – Q3: 42 (14) – Q4: 56 (14)
VIXENS | Q1: 11 – Q2: 25 (14) – Q3: 35 (10) – Q4: 52 (17)
GIANTS | GS Susan Pettitt, GA Jo Harten (C), WA Sarah Wall, C Serena Guthrie, WD Jamie-Lee Price, GD Bec Bulley, GK Sam Poolman
VIXENS | GS Mwai Kumwenda, GA Tegan Philip, WA Liz Watson, C Kate Moloney (C), WD Chloe Watson, GD Jo Weston, GK Emily Mannix
VIXENS | Q3 – WD Khao Watts; Q3 Timeout – GS Emma Ryde; Q4 – GS Kumwenda, WA Watts, C L Watson, WD Moloney.
GIANTS: 56/66 @ 85%
S. Pettitt: 20/24 @ 83%
J. Harten: 36/42 @ 86%
VIXENS: 52/58 @ 90%
M. Kumwenda: 34/36 @ 94%
T. Philip: 15/19 @ 79%
E. Ryde: 3/3 @ 100%