The NSW Swifts again showcased its firepower in the latest round of the ANZ Championship by posting its third tally of 70 goals or more this season in a clinical 21-goal demolition of the Mainland Tactix.
In their first trip across the Tasman this season, the Swifts dominated the match after quarter-time to post a 73-52 victory in Christchurch.
While New Zealand Silver Fern Laura Langman was the dominant player on court for the Swifts, coach Rob Wright also used the match to highlight the depth in his squad.
Stephanie Wood was given a starting position for the first time this season and responded by shooting a career-best 31 goals – almost upstaging Caitlin Thwaites (32 goals) as the Swifts leading scorer for the match.
Wright also gave young defender Lauren Moore some valuable court time in the final term as the Swifts tuned up for another crack at reigning champions the Queensland Firebirds in Sydney this Sunday.
It looked as though the home side was going to end their Perth Arena hoodoo at half-time as they led by four goals and looked to be in control.
But the Vixens lifted in the third quarter through captain Madi Robinson and got back on level terms heading into the final term.
In Simone McKinnis’ 50th game as coach, the Vixens continued to grow in confidence in the last stanza and pulled away to a three-goal lead late in the match.
A late rally by Fever wasn’t enough for them to snatch a draw and Vixens returned home with a valuable two points after their 54-53 victory.
Fever remain winless from five appearances at Perth Arena.
The win lifted the Vixens into third spot on the ladder ahead of Fever by percentage – and they have a chance next round to edge a game ahead as West Coast has the bye.
Gretel Tippett, who missed the previous week’s victory over Fever due to injury, was back in the Firebirds line-up and caused plenty of problems for the Adelaide defenders.
Down by 10 goals at half-time, the Thunderbirds showed they can match it with the top sides by closing the gap to six late in the third quarter.
But Firebirds defender Clare McMeniman showed her experience to halt their run and ensure the Firebirds stayed on top of the ladder.
Photos courtesy of Steve McLeod Photography and David Callow