The Melbourne Vixens rebounded in timely fashion to open their account in 2016 with a spirited 59-44 win over the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Adelaide on Sunday.
With both teams finding their feet after blooding new young talent this season, the Thunderbirds' bad luck continued when shooter Cody Lange was stretchered from the court with what appeared to be a knee injury just moments after coming on midway through the second quarter.
Already without Renae Ingles (pregnant) and Amy Steel for a month with glandular fever, the loss of Lange proved to be a blow as the Thunderbirds unravelled in the run to half-time.
After playing just her first full game last week, Vixens goal attack Alice Teague-Neeld led the home team’s rejuvenation. Taking on a big workload, Teague-Neeld impressed with her speed, movement and accuracy under the ring while her captain Madi Robinson was a classy distributor from both the centre and wing attack roles.
Nudging out to a 15-11 first quarter lead, the Vixens produced a massive second term as the Thunderbirds struggled for any fluency in the wake of Lange’s injury. The visitors dictated all facets, showing superior accuracy and finishing as they dined off Thunderbirds turnovers in bursting out to a 34-20 lead at the main break.
After trailing by 17 goals, the Thunderbirds roared back to life with an impressive revival during the third quarter. Shooter Carla Borrego found her groove in the circle to slot 15 from 16 while goalkeeper Samantha Poolman did a fine job of unsettling the Vixens shooters.
Lifting the intensity, the Thunderbirds challenged valiantly, eating into the deficit and going on to win the quarter and a glimmer of hope when trailing 45-36 at the last break.
Missing most of last year through injury, Robinson was a key figure for the Vixens, bouncing back from a disappointing opening round to guide her team home and getting to enjoy the company of her sister Kelsey Browne for the last quarter.
The Vixens regained their composure for the run home, resisting any chances of a comeback as the Thunderbirds recorded back-to-back losses.
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