Vixens lift trans-Tasman netball trophy
Sharelle McMahon provided the scare, the spark and the shooting firepower to lift the Melbourne Vixens to their first trans-Tasman netball championship on Sunday.
Star goal shooter McMahon spearheaded the Vixens to a 54-46 win over Adelaide Thunderbirds in the ANZ Championship grand final at Hisense Arena, a victory built on an outstanding second-quarter performance.
As the heat rose following a deadlocked first quarter, predictably McMahon was the Vixens’ fire-starter.
After throwing panic into the camp when she needed medical attention for an ankle injury early in the term, McMahon then clashed mid-court with Adelaide defender Mo’onia Gerrard after the T-Birds player brought her to ground soon after with a heavy foul.
McMahon angrily rose to her feet and walked into the fallen Gerrard – a moment which appeared to spark both star player and team into life in front of a sellout 9,500 crowd.
McMahon shot seven of nine and fellow shooter Caitlin Thwaites seven from eight for the term as Melbourne outscored Adelaide 14-6 to take an eight-goal lead to halftime.
From then, no amount of pre-match hypnosis – part of Adelaide’s preparation all season – was going to swing the pendulum back their way.
The minor premiers kept their lead between seven and 13 goals throughout and never looked in danger.
McMahon, who shot 23 of 28 goal attempts at 82 per cent, and Thwaites (31/39 at 79 per cent) held firm throughout, backed by superb Vixens’ defence and energy from their mid-court.
McMahon played down her confrontation with Gerrard – a far cry from their 2008 clash in which the Vixens’ star planted a mid-match kiss on the T-Birds defender.
“There has been a lot of talk (about the battle with Gerrard) all week, which is great; it creates a little more interest,” McMahon said.
“But we as a group didn’t focus on the individual battles we had.
“We knew if we pulled together as a team and did the things we needed to do that we could achieve what we wanted to.”
As the Vixens lifted in the second term, Adelaide were also on the end of a heavy penalty count as the umpires took exception with their close-checking style.
But the Thunderbirds refused to blame umpiring for the defeat – coach Jane Woodlands-Thompson and captain Natalie von Bertouch saying the Vixens were simply better.
“It’s just that we didn’t adjust to what they (the umpires) were calling, and we need to be smarter as a team when that happens,” von Bertouch said.
“It’s very disappointing we didn’t adjust to that. Their intensity all over the court … full credit to them they put all the pressure on us today.”© AAP 2013
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