The Melbourne Vixens have put the rest of the Suncorp Super Netball teams on notice after completing a remarkable turnaround to claim the pre-season Team Girls Cup with a 45-43 win over the West Coast Fever.
The Team Girls Cup featured all eight Suncorp Super Netball teams play shortened games in a round-robin format within three days in Melbourne.
After claiming the Super Netball championship in 2020, the Vixens had a season to forget last year as the sy won just two out of 14 games and finished with the dreaded wooden spoon.
Melbourne Vixens co-captain and Australian Diamonds captain Liz Watson missed last season with a foot injury, however she returned to the court in the Team Girls Cup to lead her team as the Vixens went undefeated in the tournament.
The Vixens had the advantage of playing at home and defeated the Sunshine Coast Lightning, Queensland Firebirds and reigning Suncorp Super Netball champions NSW Swifts on their way to the final.
The Vixens were without their two star shooters during the tournament with Mwai Kumwenda out due to COVID protocols and Kiera Austin missing with a knee injury.
Their absence mattered little as exciting young guns Rahni Samason and Ruby Barkmeyer stepped up and led their team to the title.
Samason scored 25 goals from 28 attempts in the final, including five super shots, while Barkmeyer finished with 10 goals from as many attempts.
The Vixens started strong in the final against the Fever and led 16-14 at quarter time and stretched their lead out to 28-21 by half-time.
The margin was maintained by the Vixens through the third quarter with the Fever attempting a late comeback, however Vixens co-captain Liz Watson remained calm under pressure in the midcourt to frustrate the Fever as the Vixens held their lead and claimed victory.
Vixens Centre Kate Moloney was named player of the final and said her side was keen to impress and make a statement after a disappointing season last year.
“It has been a really tough off-season. We’ve worked really hard as a group. It’s no shock to say we finished on the bottom of the ladder last year and that puts a real fire in your belly,” Moloney told Fox Netball.
“We don’t want to be there again. There’s a lot of proud history at the Melbourne Vixens. We know exactly where we want to be.”
“This trophy isn’t the one we want. It’s the one later in the year that we want our hands on. So a lot of hard work to go still.”
The Suncorp Super Netball regular season kicks off on March 26.