The Melbourne Vixens claimed their first Super Netball grand final on Sunday, defeating the West Coast Fever in a nail-biting 66-64 victory.
The Vixens’ victory in Brisbane was a sweet ending to “one of the toughest seasons in every way possible”, as it was put by the team’s coach Simone McKinnis after the game.
The decider was a gruelling, tight contest that displayed some of the best talent in the sport and went right down to the wire. The win for The Vixens was a fitting end to a season that almost didn’t happen due to the pandemic, and marked a perfect send off for retiring champions Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip, two of the game’s stalwarts.
“Holy crap, that was right down to the wire,” an emotional Caitlin Thwaites said after the final whistle. “I just had such faith that we played out all of those scenarios. We knew exactly what to do. I’m just so proud to be part of this club.
Thwaites dedicated the win to all the Victorians enduring the COVID-19 lockdown.
“We really hope that you guys back home, [that] we have brought some light to you guys. We know that it has been really, really hard for you and we can’t wait to get home and just give you all a huge big hug,” she said.
The grand final was a game of momentum, with both teams holding it at different points. At the break before the final quarter, the Vixens were up 3 points, the first time they had gone into a break with a lead. It didn’t stop the Fever, who scraped their way back in front by two goals in the last quarter, with four minutes remaining.
The Vixen’s held their form, and with some crucial defending from Jo Weston and Emily Mannix, and excellence in the goal circle from Mwai Kumwenda and Caitlin Thwaites, were able to overcome the Fever in the final moments.
Mwai Kumwenda was named player of the match, a testament to her incredible work in the goal circle, where she repeatedly “defied the law of physics”, as put by commentator Liz Ellis, and maintained an impressive shooting accuracy, of 47/50 at 94 per cent.
The Vixens are now the first minor premiers to win a Super Netball season’s corresponding championship, a reflection of their dedication to the season, and sacrifice in spending 93 days in the Queensland hub.
It was a fairytale ending for the Vixens, with coach Simone McKinnis saying she felt exhilarated by the win, and all the hard work that had gone into the tough season.
“We said had right back at the start if they start talking about, ‘it is not a full-on season’, it was one of the toughest seasons in every way possible and I knew that we wanted to be the toughest competitors in this competition,” she said.
“So it was tough and it is huge. The team that was going to come out on top and win this it was going to be a huge effort.”
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