National senior women’s netballer, Samantha “Sniper” Wallace missed only four of 50 attempts on goal, which proved the difference as her New South Wales fell to a 63-60 defeat at the hands of Melbourne Vixens in their top-of-the-table Round Eight clash in the Australia Suncorp Super Netball League at Nissan Arena, Brisbane on Saturday.
By outlasting Wallace and reigning champions Swifts, the Melbourne Vixens took sole possession of top spot on the eight-team table with 7-1 record and 28 points, four ahead of the Swifts who dropped a second game on the season for a 6-2 record while third-placed Sunshine Coast Lightning has 20 points and a match in hand.
On the day Australia's national team coach was unveiled, the Melbourne Vixens and NSW Swifts have provided the new Diamonds boss with a spectacular showcase of the rich resources at her disposal.
Within hours of the announcement of Stacey Marinkovich becoming the 15th Diamonds coach, the Vixens Liz Watson and Swift's Paige Hadley enhanced their already powerful reputations as the eventual winners survived a late fightback.
With both teams starting the day level on points, a close contest was expected from the first while and both teams did not disappoint with the Swifts hanging on to a narrow 15-14 first quarter thanks to the Toco-born Wallace lead before the Vixens edged the second period, also by a mere goal 16-15 to draw even at the half-time whistle at 30-all.
The Vixens grabbed the advantage in the third quarter thanks largely to the fierce checking of Vixens wing defence Kate Eddy, who worried her former side into a string of possession changes which led to a 17-13 period win for a 47-43 advantage going into the final period.
Led by the 26-year-old Wallace who had the carry her team's offence almost single-handedly after goal attack Helen Housby sat out much of the second half with a corked leg, the Swifts tried valiantly to regain the advantage.
However, despite taking the final quarter, 17-16, Wallace and her team-mates came up short, and will now look ahead to their Round Nine encounter with Collingwood Magpies while the Vixens' next match is against the Giants Metball on Tuesday evening. Giants were 69-54 winners over Magpies in Saturday's other early match.
Individually, Wallace leads the Swifts with 251 goals from 288 attempts for the third spot behind Jamaicans Jhaniele Fowler (375 from 406 attempts) and Romelda Aiken (270/322), while Cara Koenen (248/281) and Lenize Potgieter with 224 from 232 attempts are fourth and fifth respectively.
The T&T standout also continued to close in on the 2,000 goals milestone in the Suncorp Netball League and now has amassed a four-year tally 1,832 goals from 2,0322 attempts.