Sunday, 8 July 2012
Despite her side becoming the first team into the trans-Tasman netball grand final for 2012, Melbourne Vixens coach Julie Hoornweg believes there is still room for improvement in her pace-setting side.
The Vixens defeated the Northern Mystics 56-50 in the major semi-final in front of 6300 fans at Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena on Sunday, playing error-free in the second half.
"That was the netball we have been wanting to play all year and it came at the right time," Hoornweg said.
With their grand final spot secured, the Vixens will enjoy a week off and Hoornweg is already planning a full practice match.
"I think there is still room for improvement. In the second quarter, we had a good start for about five minutes and then threw a couple of errors in," she said.
Slow starts have been the Vixens' trademark and they again found themselves trailing by five goals at halftime.
Despite this, Mystics captain Temepara George said the visitors were powerless to stop the strong finish.
"The Vixens, throughout the championships, when they are playing catch-up netball, have always found that momentum and been able to carry it through," she said.
"We knew that. We just came out a bit soft and had a couple of turnovers."
The New Zealanders had won their early lead through precision passing and the brilliant shooting of Cathrine Latu and Maria Tutaia.
Latu was dominant in the first half scoring 22 goals from 23 shots.
After the break, Vixens keeper Geva Mentor was able to attack more and cut Latu back to just eight from nine attempts.
When the teams played eight weeks ago, the Mystics stunned their rivals with a defensive move involving one defender lifting another to block shots on goal.
This time, the Vixens were ready and the visitors failed with all three lifting moves.
Vixens shooters Karyn Howarth and Tegan Caldwell positioned themselves perfectly to either block the run or rebound the ball.
The teams were tied at 40-40 at the last change.
The Vixens started to find space through the mid-court and were passing the ball beautifully to Howarth and Caldwell who shot a perfect final term.
"We thrive on that pressure," said Vixens captain Bianca Chatfield.
The grand final in Melbourne will be the first for the Vixens since they won the competition in 2009.
The Mystics will host the preliminary final next weekend in Auckland against Waikato Bay of Plenty or Adelaide Thunderbirds, who will play their minor semi-final in Hamilton on Monday.
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