Vixens hold on against gallant Fever
The Melbourne Vixens have won the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball premiership, defeating the West Coast Fever 66-64 in a thrilling Grand Final at Nissan Arena in Brisbane on Sunday.
The game was on a knife edge throughout but the Vixens had the answers in the final quarter to send retiring stars Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Thwaites out in style.
The premiership was the Vixens first since 2014, in the previous competition known as the ANZ Championship that was replaced by the current incarnation in 2017.
Star shooters at opposite end of the court Mwai Kumwenda and Jhaniele Fowler were in dynamic form, both converting nearly all of their opportunities in the goal circle in an absorbing opening half.
The Fever led by a goal at quarter time and maintained that lead at the half thanks to a stunning super shot from Fowler after the half time bell.
But the momentum had begun to turn in favour of the minor premiers and the Vixens took the lead from Stacey Marinkovich's team, leading by 3 at the final break with everything still to play for.
Scores were level with 90 seconds left in the season, Kumwenda completing a nerveless shot to put her side in front before defenders Jo Weston and Emily Mannix came up with a crucial intercept to give the Vixens back possession, the star Malawi international with her 47th goal of the game in what was a Grand Final MVP performance.
Fowler was a star once again for the Fever, scoring 55 goals from 56 attempts while fellow goal scoring team mate Alice Teague-Neeld had several moments of brilliance, almost snatching the game late with a super shot attempt that fell just short.
The premiership was an emotional one for the Vixens who have spent more than 100 days away from their native Victoria due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire season based in Queensland with players and support staff leaving their lives back home to make the season a possibility.
The culmination of the season also meant the end of the road for Vixens players Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip, having both also won gold medals for their country representing the Australian Diamonds on top of their deeds in domestic netball.
At the end of one of the most remarkable netball seasons on record it was coach Simon McKinnis and co-captains Kate Maloney and Liz Watson who stepped forward to accept the SSN premiership trophy, the Fever gallant runners up in a fantastic season.
IMAGE: Nine Wide World of Sports.