Both Magpies Netball and the Melbourne Vixens were holding a lot of expectations coming into the Suncorp #TeamGirls Cup Final. Vixens were riding the wave of three consecutive, and convincing wins. Magpies were out to prove that they could produce when it counts.
Magpies got off to a blistering start, sinking three unanswered goals. Shooter and game MVP, Shimona Nelson, continued to show how much she has improved in the off-season when taking the balls high and strong. Her footwork and understanding of how to work the circle also showed in the way she opened up the front space.
Nelson’s shooting partner, Gabi Sinclair, was utilising the space she created, in taking strong drives along the base. She also used her height differential to her advantage, easily ducking under the arms of Emily Mannix and Jo Weston.
Tegan Philip was the one who eventually got the Vixens on the board and was then instrumental in the Vixens’ next four, almost identical, plays.
The plays started at the transverse line where Philip would duck out for a pass. She would offload to a midcourter as Thwaites would come out of the circle drawing her defender. Then in a magnificent burst of speed Philip would drive in, leaving her goal defence, Matilda Garrett, in her wake and land directly under the post all alone where she takes the ball and sinks the shot.
Not surprisingly, after the Vixens executed this play for the fourth time to draw the game level, Magpies coach, Rob Wright, utilised the rolling subs option to introduce the experienced April Brandley at goal defence. The game continued to be a tight tussle for the next two quarters.
It became more of a battle of the coaches as to who utilised the rolling subs more effectively. Wright fluidly, and repeatedly, switched Brandley and Garrett. He also opted to bring on training partner, Melissa Bragg, at wing defence.
Nat Medhurst was also introduced at goal attack. She brought a calmness to the Magpies attack end. Her connection with Kelsey Browne and Madi Robinson is already on point, with the duo instinctively knowing where and when to place the ball.
The Vixens had a settled midcourt, the only change coming when Liz Watson and Kate Moloney swapped bibs. But coach, Simone McKinnis, did introduce goal keeper Kadie-Ann Dehaney during the second term. Dehaney is a better height match for Nelson and was effective in getting hands to the ball and creating turnovers for the Vixens as they took a two-goal lead into the main break.
Robinson confirmed that heading into the second half of the game, the Magpies’ objectives were simple, “Stick to the processes and consistently execute the basics.”
From the tenacious way they attacked the ball to the impressive out of court save that Robinson executed in the pocket, the Magpies had their tails up in the third quarter and showed the determination which was lacking in the past two seasons.
In true leadership style, Geva Mentor urged her defensive unit to greater heights, by being full of praise for her young charges and giving them encouraging pats on the back when their efforts were rewarded.
The encouragement, and time on the bench to watch the play worked as Garrett picked up an across court pass in front of Philip. Mentor could be heard screaming ‘yes Tilly!’ and slapping her hands together in appreciation. The Magpies won the quarter 11-6 and took a two-goal lead into the final break.
They continued with that momentum for the first two and a half minutes of play in the final quarter as they put up three unanswered goals.
A break came for the Vixens when Nelson missed her third goal attempt of the quarter. The desperate scramble for the loose ball, by Jo Weston, showed how much the Vixens wanted to win the game.
The transition was cautious for the Vixens taking nearly thirty seconds to work the ball down the court. Eventually, Philip sunk a mid-range shot, as Mentor and Brandley blocked access closer to the post.
The game continued to be a goal-for-goal battle until the final whistle. It was untidy as players, exhausted from three days of intense games, gave up coach killing errors and sloppy contacts.
Liz Watson confirmed that intensity was lacking for her side, “We spoke about putting out four full quarters, and yes we started well. But we let them back in. We probably got caught up in the changes that were made and didn’t adjust quick enough which let them get two or three goals ahead, and in ten-minute quarters that’s a lot.”
The relief on the Magpies’ faces at the end of the game was palpable. They were desperate to prove themselves. Robinson said, “It is nice to finally be able to bring something back to the Holden Centre and put in the trophy cabinet.”
MAGPIES NETBALL 39 def MELBOURNE VIXENS 33
(7-9, 16-19, 27-25, 39-33)
Shimona Nelson 35/41 85%
Nat Medhurst 3/7 43%
Gabi Sinclair 1/2 50%
Total 39/50 78%
Caitlin Thwaites 9/12 75%
Tegan Philip 20/22 91%
Ine-Mari Venter 4/6 61%
Total 33/40 83%
GS Shimona Nelson
GA Gabi Sinclair
WA Kelsey Browne
C Madi Robinson
WD Kim Ravaillion
GD Matilda Garrett
GK Geva Mentor
(Q1) GA Nat Medhurst, GD April Brandley;
(Q2) C Kim Ravaillion, WD Melissa Bragg, GD Matilda Garrett, WA Madi Robinson, GD April Brandley;
(Q3) C Madi Robinson, WA Kelsey Browne, GD Matilda Garrett, C Kim Ravaillion, C Madi Robinson
(Q4) WD Kim Ravaillion, GD April Brandley
GS Caitlin Thwaites
GA Tegan Philip
WA Liz Watson
C Kate Moloney
WD Renae Ingles
GD Jo Weston
GK Emily Mannix
(Q2) GK Kadie-Ann Dehaney, GA (then back to GS) Caitlin Thwaites, GS (then back to GA) Tegan Philip;
(Q3) GA Caitlin Thwaites, GS (then back to GA) Tegan Philip, GS Ine-Mari Venter, GD Emily Mannix, GD Jo Weston, C Liz Watson, WA Kate Moloney;
(Q4) GK Emily Mannix, GS Caitlin Thwaites, GK Kadie-Ann Dehaney, WA Liz Watson, C Kate Moloney
Nat Medhurst (Magpies) 12
Liz Watson (Vixens) 12
Kelsey Browne (Magpies) 11
Kate Moloney (Vixens) 10
Madi Robinson (Magpies) 10
Melissa Bragg (Magpies) 3
Matilda Garrett (Magpies) 2
Kelsey Browne (Magpies) 7
Tegan Philip (Vixens) 4
Caitlin Thwaites (Vixens) 4
Liz Watson (Vixens) 4
Madi Robinson (Magpies) 2
Matilda Garrett (Magpies 2
Player of the Match: Shimona Nelson (Magpies Netball)