Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Tactix momentum stalled with big loss

Bailey Mes of the Tactix. Photo / Photosport
Bailey Mes of the Tactix. Photo / Photosport

Vixens 69
Tactix 48

The air has been let out of the Mainland Tactix confidence balloon after the Canterbury side crashed to a 69-48 defeat to the Melbourne Vixens.

Coming into the match on the back of consecutive victories over the Mystics and Pulse, the Tactix were chasing an unprecedented third straight win in Christchurch tonight.

But the Vixens, who have had a mixed start to 2016 following the loss of key players to injury (Tegan Philip) and retirement (Bianca Chatfield), quickly put paid to any thoughts the Tactix team may have had of grabbing a slice of history.

From the outset the visitors' efficiency and accuracy shone through, with the Vixens leaping out to a 3-0 lead in the space of a minute, as star midcourter Madison Robinson, who was playing in her 100th match for the Melbourne side, finding her connection with shooter Karyn Bailey early on.

With Robinson finding little resistance on her path to the top of the circle, the Vixens set a hot scoring pace in the opening spell racking up 21 goals to the Tactix 14.

Forced into chase mode early on, the Tactix struggled to settle on attack, with the homeside guilty of trying to force ball into the circle.

The Tactix crafty and athletic shooting pairing of Mwai Kumwenda and Bailey Mes have proved a handful for opposition defences over the last couple of weeks. But they could not outfox Vixens defenders Geva Mentor and Jo Weston, who did an impressive job of breaking down the connection between the Tactix shooters.

The homeside were perhaps also guilty of not paying enough respect to the range and aerial ability of the Mentor and Weston, with too much lifted ball being flung into circle.

Tactix midcourter Hayley Saunders believed her side had made great strides over the opening five rounds in finetuning their attacking combinations and was disappointed to see them fall apart so spectacularly tonight.

"Over the past couple of weeks I think our connections in the attack end has been absolutely outstanding, and I think we really lost that today. And that's not blaming the attackers, a lot of that is generated from the defensive end and we didn't provide that today, so that's really disappointing," said Saunders.

Trailing 38-25 at halftime, the Tactix showed more resolve in the third spell, with the return of defender Jess Moulds, who was benched early in the second quarter, having an immediate impact as she came up with an early steal.

The Tactix midcourt worked overtime on defence in the third spell to slow the Vixens through the court and create opportunities for the defenders, leading to a much more competitive quarter, with both sides scoring 12 apiece.

All that hard work was quickly undone in the final quarter however, as the visitors rediscovered their rampant early form to run out convincing winners.

The final match-up of round six between the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic and West Coast Fever is due to get underway in Tauranga at 8.10pm.

- NZ Herald

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