The Melbourne Vixens took a major step towards securing the Super Netball minor premiership with an impressive 62-55 win over NSW Swifts.
Melbourne dominated the top-of-the-table clash at USC Stadium on Tuesday night, claiming the Sargeant-McKinnis Cup with their second win over the defending champions in the space of two weeks.
Behind a flawless performance from goaler Mwai Kumwenda, the ladder-leaders surged 10 points clear of the Swifts with three rounds to play and can secure a top-two finish if they defeat rivals Collingwood Magpies on Saturday.
Kumwenda scored 48 goals and added three rebounds with regular goalshooter Caitlin Thwaites playing the full match at goal attack.
"We definitely had those discussions at the start of the year," Thwaites said about her role swinging between the two attacking positions.
I've put the work in and I think it's a good option for us - we've got great versatility in our attack end to mix it up."
The result was more impressive with Tegan Philip (knee) and Emily Mannix (calf) not taking part in the match, Kadie-Ann Dehaney again filling in admirably for Mannix at goalkeeper.
Both sides looked switched on from the outset with the Vixens shooting at 100 per cent accuracy in the first quarter and the Swifts keeping pace, Helen Housby's late Super Shot levelling the scores at 17-17.
After rolling her right ankle during the first Power Five period, Liz Watson returned to the action in the second quarter and while she appeared far from her best, defensive pressure from the Vixens proved the difference as they built a 33-30 halftime lead.
NSW erased Melbourne's advantage with the first three goals of the second half but that merely sparked the Vixens into action, a 6-0 run setting up a crucial 16-10 third-quarter win and a nine-goal lead.
The Swifts tried to chip away at the deficit in the final period but despite a wholehearted effort from captain Maddy Proud, they were unable to prevent a third loss in their last four games.
With the semi-final fast approaching, the result sets up an intriguing clash for the reigning champions with top-four challenger West Coast on Saturday at Nissan Arena.
Australian Associated Press