The Swifts have prolonged the Vixens’ winless start to 2021, notching a comfortable win at Ken Rosewall Arena on Sunday afternoon.
The NSW Swifts marked their long awaited return to Sydney in style, beating fierce rivals Melbourne Vixens 55-43 in front of an electric crowd at the Ken Rosewall Arena.
Shooter Sam Wallace stole the show with zero misses, incredibly converting all 46 of her shots, including two Super Shots.
“Sam is a fantastic target and probably one of the most intelligent netballers I’ve coached,” said Swifts coach Briony Akle.
“She becomes like a second coach out there and we have had her doing the extras this year.
“There is no day off for a shooter if you want to be the world’s best in this competition.”
It was a high intensity match full of physicality, with several players on both sides hitting at the deck at various times during it.
“Netballers are tough,” Akle said when asked about NRL coach Ricky Stuart’s insinuation that netball isn’t a ‘tough’ sport.
“It was a tough 60 minutes of netball and it took that to win the game.”
For the Vixens, the result means they are without a win in their opening three games for the first time, with coach Simone McKinnis admitting they have plenty of work to do.
“We’ve got to cop that, but it’s about what we do about it,” said McKinnis.
“It’s about getting better and changing things for ourselves.”
The Swifts raced ahead in front of an excitable crowd of over 5,000 at their new home. It was their first match at home since 2019 and their fans well and truly turned up for the occasion, both in numbers and noise.
Wallace was sublime for the home side in the first quarter. She shot 15 straight goals with perfect accuracy to power the Swifts to a 10-goal lead by the end of the opening quarter.
But the home side were just as good defensively, particularly through player of the match Sarah Klau, making a number of crucial interceptions to leave the Vixens in all sorts. Every player on the court did their bit, with coach Akle happy to not make any substitutions.
Things weren’t quite as smooth for opposition coach McKinnis, who rang the changes at the end of the quarter.
The Swifts’ dominance continued into the second quarter, with Wallace still masterful in her movement and shooting.
Meanwhile at the other end, the Vixens struggled to capitalise on the opportunities their defence provided as shooting continues to be a problem area for them.
The Swifts have been guilty of not maintaining the intensity for a full match this season, but for the first time this campaign they owned both quarters and went into the halftime break ahead 32-19.
But their intensity dropped off in the third quarter as the Vixens made their move. The visitors put the pressure on Wallace and at one stage clawed back to within seven points of the Swifts.
The momentum might have been with the Vixens, who won the third quarter, but Wallace stepped up to score a crucial Super Shot in the last second to give the Swifts a 44-35 lead heading into the final quarter of the match.
It was a real test for the home side, but they withstood the pressure to see off the challenge from the Vixens.