The New South Wales Swifts claimed the Sargeant-McKinnis Cup and surged further atop the Super Netball table with an ominous 62-48 win over the Melbourne Vixens on Saturday afternoon.
Sarah Klau formed a deadly defence with Maddy Turner and was eminently instrumental in the victory, claiming 44 deflections, 17 intercepts and 11 rebounds.
Turner combined her own 27 deflections with 11 rebound 11 intercepts, and was supported at the other end of the court by a flawless Sam Wallace, who converted 32 goals from as many attempts.
Jo Weston fought hard in defence all afternoon for the hosts, as captain Kate Moloney tried to spark her side at wing attack with 19 feeds and nine assists.
But any home-crowd hopes of the Vixens replicating last week’s stunning upset win were quickly eroded by the Swifts’ breezy start, which yielded seven goals before the home side hit the scoreboard and prompted an early timeout call from Vixens coach Simone McKinnnis.
McKinnis’ efforts to jumpstart her rebuilding side offered some promise, but a commanding Power 5 period from the Swifts blasted the lead well out of touching distance by the first break.
The Vixens’ struggle to connect from midcourt into attack continued in the second term, but the Swifts — met with firmer defensive pressure — started to turn the ball over themselves, and a Mwai Kumwenda Super Shot on the buzzer meant the lead was only narrowly extended by the main break.
It mattered little, though, for the Swifts had all but sealed the game by halftime, and followed up their blistering start with a controlled third quarter that drowned the Vixens in a 22-goal deficit.
The Swifts eased the proverbial foot off the pedal in the final term, but a 14-goal win gifts the ladder leaders a timely percentage boost as the season starts to heat up.
Player-of-the-match Sarah Klau said the Swifts had a focus on remaining positive in the midst of the uncertainty posed by Sydney’s rise in Covid cases.
“Obviously it’s really challenging, and we think of those back home, (but) I think we’re just grateful to be playing and bonding as a team and putting our best foot forward,” she said.
Klau added that the Swifts were disappointed by a last quarter in which the Vixens were able to trim the margin back with a 23-15 final-term win.
“I think we took the foot off there and just put that hard, one-on-one contesting pressure off, so we’ll certainly look at that,” Klau said.