Vixens reclaim trans-Tasman lead

NZ Newswire June 25, 2012, 9:41 pm

Melbourne Vixens wrested back the trans-Tasman netball league lead with a 49-41 win over Central Pulse at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua on Monday.

The Vixens were the third team in three days to lay claim to the top of the table, as first Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic, then Northern Mystics briefly headed the ladder at the weekend.

The game was won in the first quarter, the Vixens shooting out to an 18-8 lead after 15 minutes as the Pulse struggled to convert the turnovers they were forcing.

In contrast, Vixens shooters Karen Howarth and Tegan Caldwell missed only three shots of 21, making the most of some quality feeding on the circle edge.

Joline Henry, so effective at centre in recent games, shifted back to her more accustomed wing defence role, and the Pulse missed her drive and strong feed into shooters Caitlin Thwaites and Paula Griffin.

Matters weren't helped when they lost wing attack Katarina Cooper to a serious knee injury late in the first stanza.

Julie Corletto, Bianca Chatfield and Geva Mentor provided a daunting defensive screen in the back court, and the Pulse had to work the ball around patiently to find the gaps.

However, the Vixens' inability to string together two consistent quarters meant they lost direction in the second spell.

The Pulse cut back their errors, finding good ball speed into the circle to win the quarter 14-10 as the Australians took a 28-22 lead into halftime.

The third quarter turned into a real arm wrestle, neither side letting up in a low-scoring spell as the Vixens edged out to lead 38-31 with 15 minutes remaining.

The see-saw battle continued right to the final whistle.

With seven minutes remaining, the Pulse closed to within four, and coach Robyn Broughton made sweeping changes in a valiant but ultimately fruitless effort to steal the win.