Netball: Vixens show gap between top and bottom

By Dana Johannsen

Bianca Chatfield of the Vixens. Photo / Getty Images
Bianca Chatfield of the Vixens. Photo / Getty Images

The Melbourne Vixens last night exposed the gulf between the top and bottom teams in the transtasman netball league with a 24-goal demolition of the Canterbury Tactix in Christchurch.

The 65-41 result ensured the unbeaten Vixens remain in the outright lead of the ANZ Championship, giving their goal percentage a handy boost in the process.

The Tactix, meanwhile, are at the bottom of the table with plenty of soul-searching to do after tonight's disheartening performance.

Even Tactix coach Leigh Gibbs, ever the optimist, will struggle to find positives from the match.

The scoreline could have blown out further had the match been played on Australian soil, where New Zealand teams are traditionally much less comfortable.

Tactix captain Maree Bowden said her side would need to seriously look at their shortcomings before next week's meeting with the defending champion Queensland Firebirds.

"We just need to go back to the basics like catching the ball _ we might start with that,'' said Bowden.

After sticking close to the Vixens for much of the first quarter, the Tactix fell off the pace in the second spell as their defence end barely troubled the visitors.

At times it looked as though Vixens shooters Karyn Howarth and Tegan Caldwell were taking part in an unopposed training run, as they were given far too much room to move.

Down the other end of the court the Tactix were having trouble just getting the ball in to their own circle, with the Vixens' star defensive pairing of Geva Mentor and Julie Corletto doing an impressive job of confusing the space for the feeders.

When the ball did get into the hands of the Tactix shooters they were reluctant to go to the post, and as a result the home side were outscored 19-9 for the period.

Trailing 33-20 at halftime, the Tactix opted to reshuffle their defence end.

Young defender Jane Watson was introduced at goal keep to match up on the 1.93m Howarth, while English import Stacey Francis moved from wing defence to goal defence, swapping bibs with Anna Galvan.

The new line-up could not slow the relentless Vixens attack, who were delivered a wealth of turnover ball from their defence end, and by mid-way through the third quarter the Vixens had a 20-goal lead.

That prompted further changes to the Tactix defence end, with Jo Trip given a chance to see what impact she could make.

The answer was very little.

***

The Southern Steel lost their 11th straight match in Australia, going down 58-48 to the Adelaide Thunderbirds last night.

Donna Wilkins led the way for the southerners with 20 goals from 23 attempts. Carla Borrego had a fine performance for the home side with 40 from 46.

The Thunderbirds' win means three of the top four postitions are held by Australian sides. The Steel sit in seventh with four points from five games.

- NZ Herald

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