The Melbourne Vixens have closed the opening round of the 2020 Super Netball competition with a hard-fought 63-52 victory over Collingwood Magpies at Brisbane's Nissan Arena.
The Vixens were challenged all the way by a gallant Magpies outfit before pulling away in the final quarter to claim victory in the Melbourne derby.
With a number of key players missing from last season's squad, Collingwood's revamped line-up faced a tough task matched up with the stability and experience of Melbourne's starting seven.
But with 197cm shooter Emma Ryde (34/38) anchoring Collingwood's attack and sisters Madi and Kelsey Browne active in the midcourt, the Magpies kept pace with their local rivals before being outscored 18-9 in the final quarter.
Captain Kate Moloney was a key figure for the Vixens, amassing 14 goal assists, 22 feeds and an intercept with zero turnovers, while defender Kate Eddy (five gains, four intercepts) impressed in her Vixens debut.
The Vixens dominated possession in the opening quarter but wayward shooting from two-point range (1-of-6 super shots) proved costly.
Magpies goal attack Gabi Sinclair closing the term with a pair of super shots to cut Melbourne's lead to 15-13.
The contest remained tight in the second quarter and while Tegan Philip found her shooting touch for the Vixens, Collingwood countered with a late cameo from 18-year-old debutant Nyah Allen to level the scores 29-29 at halftime.
The Magpies kept pace in the third quarter, Sinclair again going 2-for-2 from two-point range, but four super shots from Mwai Kumwenda handed Melbourne a 45-43 advantage before the Vixens eased away in the final term.
The result capped an eventual opening weekend featuring the introduction of the controversial super shot along with rolling substitutions and expanded team lists of 12 players.
COVID-19 restrictions in Melbourne forced the Vixens and Magpies to relocate to Queensland and undergo a 14-day quarantine period in order to get the new season underway.
Collingwood's preparations were further hampered with goal shooter Shimona Nelson unable to play the opening round after her move north was delayed due to potential exposure to the coronavirus.
Nelson returned a negative COVID-19 test and will clear quarantine in time to join her teammates for Collingwood's round two clash.
Australian Associated Press