PIES' SECOND-HALF STALL LEADS TO EIGHT-GOAL DEFEAT

The Melbourne Vixens have maintained their dominance in the Suncorp Super Netball Melbourne derby #TheBattle with a 65-57 win over the Collingwood Magpies at Margaret Court Arena.

After trailing by as many as seven goals, the Vixens rallied with a huge 19-12 third quarter before going on to complete the job in the final term.

It was an important clash for both sides to remain in touch with the SSN ladder’s top four, even more so for the Magpies who had not tasted victory in the three previous Melbourne derbies.

The Magpies identified defence as a key early on, with 19-year-old Matilda Garrett earning the start in goal defence, while April Brandley took on and starred with the goalkeeper bib. Kim Ravaillion was also re-installed as starting centre.

As expected, it was tense early on with both sides going goal-for-goal in the opening five minutes.

The battle between Brandley and Vixens goal shooter Mwai Kumwenda was intense, but still neither side would blink as the scores remained locked up with five minutes remaining in the quarter.

An overstep call against the Vixens handed the Magpies possession and allowed them to finally break the deadlock, taking a 17-15 lead into quarter time and securing the first bonus point of the match.

Caitlin Thwaites was on fire for the Magpies, shooting at a perfect clip and pushing that advantage out to six goals early in the second quarter and prompting a Vixens timeout.

The Vixens launched many counter-attacks, but Collingwood coach Kristy Keppich-Birrell’s decision to shake up her roster was being rewarded with Brandley and Ravaillion pulling off several turnovers to gain possession.

The Vixens upped their defensive intensity, but goal attack Erin Bell was able to weave the ball through traffic to routinely find her target in Thwaites - the Magpies securing their second bonus point and a 33-28 halftime lead.

Any thoughts of the Vixens rolling over were quickly erased in the third quarter as they went on a 7-2 run to eliminate the deficit.

"It was a game of two halves. A really exciting first half and a really disappointing and inconsistent second half," Magpies coach Kristy Keppich-Birrell said post-game.

"We knew they'd come out fighting at the half time break, but we drifted from what we needed to be doing."

The Vixens lost goalkeeper Emily Mannix in the latter stages of the quarter with a suspected dislocated finger, with the game still firmly in the balance.

After trailing by as many as seven goals, the Vixens went into the final term ahead by two, courtesy of a Tegan Philip shot after the siren, and they went on to complete the job in another big quarter to close out the match.

"We're not performing under scoreboard pressure. We need to keep working on that," Keppich-Birrell on what went wrong in the second half.

"We don't like to lose any game, especially to our home-town rivals. It's frustrating for the team."

"You never give up on hope (of finals) because of the calibre of this team. The part where we're not at our best is what's letting us down right now."

The Magpies will now turn their attention to the ladder-leading West Coast Fever. The two will clash at Margaret Court Arena next Saturday evening.

Q1: Magpies 17 v Vixens 15
Q2: Magpies 16 v Vixens 13
Q3: Magpies 12 v Vixens 19
Q4: Magpies 12 v Vixens 18

Suncorp Super Netball premiership points
Vixens 6
Magpies 2

Magpies shooting statistics
Caitlin Thwaites 49/51
Erin Bell 8/16

Vixens shooting statistics
Mwai Kumwenda 42/43
Tegan Philip 23/24

Magpies starting seven
GS: Caitlin Thwaites, GA: Erin Bell, WA: Madi Robinson, C: Kim Ravaillion, WD: Ash Brazill, GD: Matilda Garrett, GK: April Brandley

Vixens starting seven
GS: Mwai Kumwenda, GA: Tegan Philip, WA: Liz Watson, C: Kate Moloney, WD: Renae Ingles, GD: Jo Weston, GK: Emily Mannix

Match MVP: Liz Watson (Vixens)