Kelsey Browne

Magpies take bragging rights in strong win over Vixens

The Collingwood Magpies have taken out the first edition of the Melbourne derby for 2022, the Vixens unable to match the Magpies' intensity for a 10 point loss.

The Collingwood Magpies have taken bragging rights in the first edition of the Melbourne derby for 2022, the Melbourne Vixens unable to match the Magpies' intensity and ferocity for 60 minutes in a 10 point loss.

Without Hannah Mundy and Kate Eddy in their midcourt, the Vixens struggled to find their rhythm in their transition and, with Kate Moloney only returning from COVID-19 protocols this weekend, lacked the energy the Magpies had in spades.

Rahni Samason was also out with a knee injury sustained in VNL this week, meaning the trio of payers was replaced by squad members Ruby Barkmeyer, Jordan Cransberg and Sharni Lambden.

Speaking to media after the 10 point loss, Vixens' coach Simone McKinnis was disappointed by her side's ability to get into the contest and said they found it hard to find the work rate required mid-match.

"I didn't think that we had the work rate, the intensity about what we were doing out there on court. It took a little while before we went, 'oh it's on?'," McKinnis said.

"I thought Magpies came out with great intensity and ferocity for the ball and confidence, and I don't think that we started with the intensity that we needed to, and then it's hard playing catch-up and trying to build that intensity and focus out there on court."

Collingwood was very upbeat and pleased with its win, as it should be. Post-match, player of the match Kelsey Browne spoke to the Fox Netball broadcast about what it meant for the club.

"It's really important for us. I think we hold the derby as a really important game for us and I think it's really exciting, I love how the media hype it up. But for us, that win, to get two on the go, it's so, so important for our season and I think the girls will be over the moon."

As expected in a derby, the fire was there from the first whistle. The Magpies confused the space for the Vixens, who missed more targets on transition than they normally would, and seemed rattled by the Magpies' early energy.

Risky passes cross court were tipped by Ash Brazill, while the Vixens' feeding into the goal circle was poor and too long out the back, early in the contest.

Shimona Nelson was tentative on her shot early, but was able to settle and make Collingwood's early press count on the scoreboard.

The Magpies had a four goal lead at the end of the first.

After what the Vixens would have hoped was a settling huddle at quarter-time, they failed to put the talk into action, allowing the Magpies to go on a four goal run. They turned it back around though, with their own five goal run to turn a 15-21 scoreline into 19-21.

Kiera Austin got herself well into the match and put the pressure back on the Magpies' defence to find new ways of slowing the Vixens' down. A couple of super shots from the Diamonds' goal attack kept the Vixens in it, but the Magpies were clearly finding the passage to goals easier.

The third quarter was a continuation of the opening half from the Magpies, who extended the margin by a further five points to lead by 10 at the final break.

A change of Sophie Garbin to Gabrielle Sinclair in the middle of the second did not change the flow in Magpies' front end, who executed the high feed into Nelson and passed around the circle to find their attack, impressively.

While the final quarter was even, 18 apiece, the Magpies had set themselves up and continued to put goals on the board as the Vixens were forced to try and use the super shot to no avail.

Workhorse Browne was in everything, her 25 assists, 21 centre-pass receives, four gains and three deflections earning her player of the match. She continues to impress at wing attack for the Magpies this season, and on Sunday the Vixens - without Eddy - really had no answers for her.

Molly Jovic, who again had an impressive match, up against Moloney who has also come off a case of COVID-19, spoke to Collingwood media after the win, before the team got into one stunning rendition of 'Good Old Collingwood Forever'.

"It's amazing playing against the Vixens and getting the win is even better.

"We obviously had a good, four quarter effort last week, and we knew we had to bring it even more this week. The girls stood up, and they played amazing, I'm so proud of them."

Despite the disruptions and changes in personnel this week, McKinnis was adamant her team was prepared for the different combinations they'd be using.

The defensive structure of Olivia Lewis at goal keeper, Emily Mannix at goal defence and Jo Weston at wing defence is a plan they've used at times already this season, but it hasn't been tested quite like it was today.

"Oh look, we prepare for the changes and different combinations every week, every training, throughout preseasons, you're always working on the different combinations because that's where you build the depth in your squad.

"So it was a different back end for us, but I thought particularly in the first half, we did a good job."

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McKinnis thought Moloney's return from COVID-19 was solid, "she was a workhorse right to the end.

"We probably lacked the drive, and the depth that we wanted in attack, but that's, you know, Kate, to be putting out a full game, she did well. She's been training since midway through the week, so she was ready for a game today."

They also had a debutant, with Sharni Lambden taking the court at wing defence. McKinnis thought there were moments where she "did some really good things", but she lacked a little composure that's required at Super Netball level.

"It's just that discipline, the little things about staying in play, which we work on continually, but I thought that she did some really nice things as well."

Half-way through the season, the Vixens have five wins and two losses, and have found several areas of their game they want to work on ahead of taking on each team again, starting with the Queensland Firebirds.

"It's a big game for us, obviously.

"It's a good time to really reflect, half-way through, really reflect and what are the key learnings and what do we need to be doing heading into this next round of games, the second half of the season. So, I think there's a bit that we need to work through and talk through, which is good - so we will start that process."

The Melbourne Vixens will hope to bounce back when they host the Queensland Firebirds to open Round Eight on Saturday, while the Collingwood Magpies will take a trip to Perth to face West Coast Fever next Sunday.