Vixens struck down in Lightning thriller
MELBOURNE Vixens have blown a chance to break into the top-two after being overrun by dual Super Netball champions Sunshine Coast Lightning in a thriller at Melbourne Arena.
Following last week's loss to the New South Wales Swifts, the Vixens coughed up a big second-quarter lead to suffer their second loss in as many weeks against their title challengers after being outgunned by a hungry Lightning in the second half.
Lightning goal attack Steph Wood, who had been benched earlier in the game, nailed the winner for her team with just seconds left on the clock.
In a tight battle for the top-two places, the third-placed Vixens could have moved above the Lightning on the ladder with a win and a haul of bonus points.
But instead the Lightning strengthened their position to move to the top of the ladder above the Swifts.
Leading by as much as 10 goals mid-way through the second quarter, the Vixens had their lead slashed to four goals at three-quarter time after the Lightning ramped up their defensive intensity.
The Lightning defensive pairing of Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni gave the Vixens' a headache in attack, making delivery into the goal circle
Needing to find a spark, Vixens' coach Simone McKinnis injected Malawi star Mwai Kumwenda (5/7) into the match for the start of the final quarter at goal shooter in place of Caitlin Thwaites (24/26).
But the move wasn't enough to lift the Vixens as they were out-scored 15-10 in the final quarter by the Lightning, who they had defeated by 10 goals earlier in the season.
Vixens' wing attack Liz Watson was named player of the match, while Lightning goal shooter Peace Proscovia was the games's top scorer with 33 goals from 34 attempts.
The Vixens will aim to cement their position in their final-round derby against cross-town rivals Magpies at Melbourne Arena on Sunday.
In their clash in Round 7, the Vixens suffered their first loss to the Magpies when they went down by three goals.
The Magpies are one of only two teams, alongside the Swifts, the Vixens have lost to this season.