Swifts go top with drought-breaking win
THE NSW Swifts have stormed to the top of the Super Netball ladder by handing the Melbourne Vixens their first defeat of the season.
The Swifts claimed maximum points in Sunday's convincing 60-50 win, leaving a sellout crowd at Melbourne's Margaret Court Arena disappointed.
It was the Swifts' first win over the Vixens in three seasons of Super Netball, a feat which thrilled MVP centre Paige Hadley.
"I'm so proud, that was a massive team effort - all over the court we put the pressure on," Hadley said.
"We always play well against them but they seem to pip us at the end so to come out in Melbourne, against that crowd, is testament to how hard we are training."
With Australia's squad for July's World Cup to be named on Thursday and Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander in the stands, this was the last chance for players to impress.
Featuring the two top-ranked teams heading into the round, the game was played at frenetic pace.
But the Swifts' defence proved suffocating while their star shooter Sam Wallace finished with 45 goals from 47 attempts, converting at stunning 96 per cent.
The Vixens got off to a strong start to lead 4-1 but by the end of the first quarter the visitors had opened up a 16-13 lead.
That blew out to seven points before the Vixens swapped struggling goal attack Tegan Philip and shooter Caitlin Thwaites.
The tactical move made an immediate impact with the home side piling on the next five goals.
The Swifts responded and pushed the lead out to eight, forcing Vixens coach Simone McKinness to look to her bench, with South African Ines-Mari Venter making her debut.
It temporarily stemmed the goal flow with the NSW outfit taking a 30-24 lead into halftime for their second bonus point.
Philip, who is in the World Cup training squad, reappeared at goal attack in the third quarter but the Swifts extended their lead to nine before ending the third term up 44-36.
Thwaites, who held her side's goal circle together shooting 28 from 32, made way for the return of Venter in the final quarter and although the home side continued to toil hard, they were unable to peg back such a commanding lead. McKinness said her team couldn't find their rhythm while she felt the Swifts stood strong.
"The attack couldn't find that right click and flow so it was quite disappointing," she said.
"We'd get a couple in a row and then there would be something silly that would let them off the hook."