The SportingJournal

Vixens Focus on the Grand Final

The Melbourne Vixens and Queensland Firebirds are set to do battle in the grand final of the 2014 ANZ Championship season this Sunday.

The Vixens earned the right to host the grand final after a five goal win in the major semi final against the Firebirds.

The Vixens finished on top of the ladder after the regular rounds, despite a last round loss to the Southern Steel that could have cost them the major semi final, however theybounced back the next week, with a strong performance over the second placing Queensland Firebirds.

With the win, the Vixens were sent straight through to the grand final, whilst the Firebirds were to face-off against the Waikato/ Bay of Plenty Magic for the second position in the grand final.

The Firebirds were able to regroup after their semi final loss, to claim a dominant win over the Magic by four goals.

Vixens’ shooter and netball legend, Catherine Cox, is set to play her last game of elite netball in the grand final, announcing her retirement earlier this season.

Cox said that before the grand final, she won’t be focused on the emotions of her last game.

“My thought process and all my emotions pre-game is going to be wholly and solely on winning it and I’ll deal with whatever hits me afterwards,” Cox said.

Cox also said that after she retires from playing, she will still play a role in netball.

“It’s obviously the thing I know the best, it’s what I’ve been doing for a long time and I’ve still got a lot to give to the sport in whatever capacity that is. So there is no doubt in my mind that I won’t venture too far from it, I don’t know exactly what capacity that will be yet, but I’ll certainly be around.”

Many of the team are familiar with the big games such as a grand final, with Bianca Chatfield, Catherine Cox, Geva Mentor and Amy Steel all being involved in a winning ANZ Championship grand final, whilst Madison Robinson, Tegan Caldwell and Karyn Bailey played in the 2012 grand final, in which the Vixens narrowly lost.

Cox, who captained the NSW Swifts to their ANZ Championship victory in the inaugural season, said it is important to not get carried away with the hype of the big game.

“We haven’t spoken too much about what a big game it is and the big stage because it shouldn’t really change how we go about our business, how we train and how we play, so we don’t want to be too rolled up by the big occasion, we’ve just got to focus on the job at hand,” Cox said.

“I think just not get too excited and too carried away with what’s happening, you have a job to do when you get on court, and that’s to play well and do the simple things well, and a lot of the times people get really nervous because it’s a big game and it can be those nerves that are detrimental to what you’re trying to achieve. “

The game will be the first ANZ Championship grand final for many of the Vixens’ young players Liz Watson and Kate Maloney, who have cemented their spot in the starting seven for the Vixens.

“They will naturally be getting more nervous as they lead into,” Cox said about the younger players in the team.

“I mean we all get nervous, just because I’ve been there a few times and been around doesn’t mean that I don’t get nervous, so it’s just about your ability to control those nerves and just get on and do the job.”

The win over the Firebirds in the semi final sees the Vixens with the momentum going into the grand final, and gives the team more confidence.

Many of the Firebirds key players did not make a great impact on the semi final, however Cox says that they didn’t have a quiet game, but that the Vixens players were able to take them out of the game by “doing a good job”.

“I think there’s a lot of confidence you can take from that, but at the same time we don’t want to be complacent,” Cox says about the semi final.

Both teams are no strangers to grand finals, with both the Vixens and the Firebirds claiming premierships in 2009 and 2011 respectively, and losing a grand final, in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

“We know that they’re going to be a different side when they come back here, they’ll be fired up. Last year they played in a grand final and they lost it, so similar to us, we’ve got a point to prove to ourselves.”

The grand final will be played in Melbourne on Sunday the 22nd of June in front of a near sell-out crowd.

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