Vixens dedicate title triumph to Victorians
Melbourne Vixens have claimed an emotion-charged victory in the Super Netball decider, withstanding a last-quarter fightback from West Coast Fever to triumph 66-64.
The two-goal victory was a perfect send off for Australian netball great Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip, who had announced they would retire at the end of the campaign.
The Vixens survived a thrilling finish to clinch their maiden crown at Brisbane's Nissan Arena.
With the Fever in possession and trailing by one with a minute remaining, Vixens defenders Jo Weston and Emily Mannix pulled down a massive rebound after goal attack Alice Teague-Neeld missed a shot.
They held possession until the final seconds when grand final MVP Mwai Kumwenda slotted her 47th goal of the match to seal an emotional win.
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With senior players Thwaites and Philip retiring and the team dedicating the win to the people of Victoria in their COVID-enforced lockdown, there was plenty of emotion for the Vixens, who won their first premiership since the Trans-Tasman trophy of 2014 and their first Super Netball title.
🏆VIXENS ARE 2020 CHAMPIONS!🏆— 9Netball (@9Netball) October 18, 2020
What a game. What a season. Unbelievable scenes! Congratulations! Take it all in, you've deserved it!👏
STREAM: https://t.co/hvocIyiEpH#9WWOS #9Netball #SSNVixensFever #SSNGrandFinal pic.twitter.com/qsHTzVFALk
Thwaites finished with 16 points, including three super shots and was thrilled after the win.
"I don't even think it's sunk in yet but holy crap, that was right down to the wire," an emotional Thwaites said after the win.
"But we'd played out all those scenarios, we knew exactly what to do. I'm just so proud to be a part of this club.
"We really hope that you guys back home (in Victoria), we've brought some light to you guys, we know it's been really, really hard had for you and we can't wait to get home.
"We're giving you all a big hug."
The match was played in front of 2061 fans, who were heavily supporting the Vixens.
Coach Simone McKinnis said: "I feel relieved and I feel exhilarated and I feel everything in between."
"The Fever were outstanding all game.
"It's been one of the toughest seasons in every way possible and I knew that we wanted to be the toughest competitors in this competition.
"I'm super proud of the Vixens, I'm super proud of anyone who supported us along the way and I hope it's been the start of a couple of grand final wins for Victoria over the next couple of weeks."
The match was a clash between the best attacking team, in the Fever, and the best defensive outfit, the Vixens.
The Vixens' full-court defensive press did not pay immediate dividends but wore down the Fever players, who started to turn over some ball late in the match as the tide turned.
In a huge pre-match boost for the Vixens, Kate Eddy was named in the starting seven after overcoming a foot injury that kept her out of the semi-final.
The wing defence was outstanding, lasting until the final minutes of the match in an effort that helped her team seal the match.
The Fever led by a single goal at quarter-time and again at the long break after reining in a Vixens lead.
The Vixens took a three-goal lead to the final break though after winning the term 18-14 but they unable to break away totally, the Fever drawing level again early in the final period before the match came down to the wire.
The best goal shooter in the world, the Fever's Jhaniele Fowler headed into the match averaging almost 57 goals per game and was the focus of the Fever attack, finishing with 56 goals on Sunday.
But it was the Vixens' Malawian shooter Kumwenda, a star in her own right and had an outstanding game against Fever captain and goalkeeper Courtney Bruce.
Kumwenda finished with 47 goals, fed brilliantly by her midcourters Liz Watson and Kate Maloney, the Vixens co-captains who later hoisted the Super Netball trophy.
MELBOURNE VIXENS 66 (Kumwenda 47, Thwaites 16, Philip 3)
WEST COAST FEVER 64 (Fowler 56, Teague-Neeld 8)
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Originally published as Vixens dedicate title triumph to Victorians