ANZ Championship: The Thunderbirds find redemption

By Aimee Dawson

The Adelaide Thunderbirds have redeemed their second round loss to the Melbourne Vixens, defeating the reigning premiers in their match in Adelaide, 47-45. The Thunderbirds, who were yet to have a win for the 2015 season, led for the majority of the match and withheld a Vixen fightback in the final minutes of the game to win by two goals.

When the two teams last played just two weeks ago, it was Melbourne who were the victors, leading the entire match and winning by nine goals. It was a different Thunderbirds outfit that took the court today compared to two weeks ago, with a free-flowing front line and intense defensive pressure, making the Vixens backtrack in their attacking line.

The Vixens started fast and led for the majority of the first quarter, however they had problems getting the ball to their shooters and creating turnovers in their defensive end. The Vixens tried to combat these problems by making changes across to their line-up in the third and fourth quarter.

Carla Dziwoki took to the court in the third quarter in place of Karyn Bailey for the Melbourne Vixens and continued her accurate shooting, scoring four goals from five attempts. Defender Jo Weston also took to the court for the Vixens for the first time this season, in place of captain Bianca Chatfield halfway through the final quarter. Leading by as much as six goals at this stage, the Thunderbirds had to hold back a spirited Vixens comeback late in the last quarter.

Thunderbird Carla Borrego was the highest scorer for the match, scoring 24 goals from 31 attempts, with her partner Erin Bell scoring 23 from 30. The Vixens shooting pair shot at 87% for the match, with Karyn Bailey missing just two shots for the entire game, finishing with 23 goals, and Tegan Philip scoring 18 goals from 22 attempts. Renae Hallinan in her milestone 100th ANZ Championship game, shut down her opponent and good friend, Madison Robinson, forcing a switch between Robinson and Vixen centre Liz Watson in the last quarter.

Amy Steel for the Thunderbirds was named MVP of the match against her old side, finishing with one interception and two deflections. Despite the win the Thunderbirds still sit on the bottom of the Australian conference ladder, however they sit above all the New Zealand teams in the combined ladder, with all the Kiwi sides yet to play this round.

Games still to come this round include the Waikato/ Bay of Plenty Magic against the bottom-of-the-ladder Canterbury Tactix, the leading New Zealand team, the Northern Mystics, taking on the Central Pulse, and the clash of the round; the NSW Swifts and West Coast Fever go head-to-head on Monday night.

The Queensland Firebirds and Southern Steel both have byes this round. Looking towards next week, the Thunderbirds take on the inform West Coast Fever, whilst the Melbourne Vixens have a bye.

Image courtesy of Netball Scoop