Firebirds down Vixens 58-47

A 42-goal game from shooter Romelda Aiken has propelled the Queensland Firebirds to a record-equalling 16th consecutive ANZ Championship victory, a 58-47 win over the Melbourne Vixens.

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Aiken posted the game-high tally from just 45 attempts.

The reigning champion’s streak matches the mark set by the Adelaide Thunderbirds over seasons 2013 and 2014 and is also a new Firebirds club record for consecutive wins.

Strong defence prompting crucial third-quarter turnovers from national captain Laura Geitz and fellow Diamonds defender Claire McMeniman had a major bearing on the Hisense Arena match.

The visitors subsequently powered to an 11-goal lead on the back of perfect shooting from Aiken (9/9 for the stanza) with good support from Gretel Tippet (16/21 for the match).

Vixens coach Simone McKinnis made changes to her shooters midway through the period and at the last break in an attempt to stem the flow.

Kim Commane made a difference with 10 goals and showed improved mobility and physicality under the posts but the deficit proved too great.

Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke said the victory was a grind and gave credit to the Vixens for a spirited performance.

“We probably didn’t play our best netball but 11 goals and to keep them under 50, we’re happy with that,” Jencke said.

“We wanted to have more accountability in the second half with the ball. We used it a lot better when we got the opportunity and the way we finished off was really pleasing.

Despite the loss, McKinnis said she was pleased with the improvement her largely inexperience side showed and singled out shooters Emma Ryde (22/25) and Alice Teague-Neeld (15/22), in only her fourth game, for praise.

“We played some bloody good netball out there against the title holders. I’ve said it before but nobody gave us a hope in hell of getting near them,” McKinnis said.

“I thought we showed good fight, lots of heart … give me that all the time and the wins will come.”

The Firebirds were heavily favoured against the Vixens but they only took a slim 16-13 lead into quarter time.

The maintained their four goal lead at halftime to hold a 31-27 advantage before pulling away in the third quarter to an 11-goal difference, which they maintained at the final whistle.