The SportingJournal

Vixens claim 2014 premiership

Netball legend Catherine Cox will leave netball on a high, after the Melbourne Vixens were crowned champions of the ANZ Championship on Sunday.

The Vixens defeated the Queensland Firebirds in the grand final by 11 goals in front of a packed Hisense Arena of over 9000 fans, to claim their second premiership since the inception of the competition in 2008.

For the Vixens, it was a long-awaited win, hosting the grand final in 2012 and losing to the Waikato/ Bay of Plenty Magic in the final minutes. For the Firebirds, it was disappointment for the second year in a row, being runners-up last year to the Adelaide Thunderbirds.

It was a nervous start for both teams at the beginning of the match, however it would be the Firebirds who settled first, with an early three goal lead.

By the end of the quarter, just two goals separated the teams, with the Vixens leading 13-11.

Inspiring defence from Bianca Chatfield, with a skilful deflection on the shot, saw the Vixens increase their lead out to five goals midway through the second quarter.

However a determined Firebirds side drew back to just two goals 24-22 at half time.

The Vixens were slow to start after the major break, with the Firebirds drawing level early in the quarter.

By three-quarter-time, the margin was three goals.

The fourth quarter saw the Vixens bring Catherine Cox onto goal shooter in place of Karyn Bailey.

The switch rattled the Firebirds who made multiple changes to their midcourt throughout the quarter as the score line edged out.

The Vixens finished with a flourish, increasing the margin to 11 goals and claiming the premiership 53 – 42.

Tegan Caldwell was named MVP of the match, shooting 30 goals from 33 attempts at 91 per cent and gaining two intercepts and one deflection, topping of a stellar year for Caldwell.

In what was a fitting fairytale ending for netball legend, Catherine Cox, who announced her retirement earlier in the season. Cox took the court in the final quarter, creating an emotional end to a brilliant career spanning almost two decades.

Cox said that the she was calm before her last game of elite netball.

“I just had these visions all week about how today was going to play out and it was exactly like that, it was exactly like that.”

“I just was so calm and confident about that going the way that it was supposed to and that was just us having that victory after such a great year.”

Cox talked about her emotions in the final minutes of play out on court.

“I looked up at about a minute twenty six to go to be precise and I actually lost it on the spot, so the last couple of shots I missed I had tears in my eyes and I thought ‘you know what, I don’t care. We’re up by enough now that it’s in the bag’ and yeah, a pretty special feeling.”

Cox is one of only four players to have played over 100 tests for Australia, along with Vicki Wilson, Liz Ellis and Sharelle McMahon, and with the Diamonds has won two World Championships and a Commonwealth Games gold. She has also claimed three premierships in the Commonwealth Bank trophy and now two premierships in the ANZ Championship.

“It’s been a long career but it’s been a good one so it’s nice to finish the same way that it kind of started.”

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