The Melbourne Vixens couldn’t be faced with a more difficult challenge – a knockout final in Perth against a Fever team that beat them last year. But they can’t wait.
The cards are stacked against the Melbourne Vixens.
To stay alive in the Super Netball premiership race, last year’s grand finalists must head across the country, venture into enemy territory and beat the defending premiers in front of a crowd likely to nudge 12,000.
It’s a massive challenge but one defender Emily Mannix says the Vixens are not only embracing but relishing.
“As soon as it gets to finals for almost like another whole season starting,” Mannix said.
“The season’s been and we’ve got into this position – obviously to go from fourth and to win it is a big feat and it’s only (Sunshine Coast) Lightning that have done that previously.
“It’s obviously do or die this weekend but what better way to just go out there at RAC Arena in front of maybe 12,000 plus fans screaming for Fever.
“We couldn’t do it last year in the grand final but I think we owe them one a little bit so I’m excited for the challenge.
“It’s difficult to go out there and play full stop. But to do it in a knockout final adds a lot more pressure but also excitement as well. And I’m really excited for the challenge.”
Mannix was part of one of the great final comebacks in Super Netball history last season, when her intercept in the dying seconds helped the Vixens overcome a nine-goal deficit at the last break against the Giants to win the preliminary final and book their place in the season decider.
The goalkeeper – who has shared duties with Olivia Lewis this season – will need to be on song again on Sunday against one of the best combinations in the league in Jhaniele Fowler, the woman rated arguably the world’s best goal shooter, and long-range specialist Sasha Glasgow in goal attack.
Mannix said last year’s preliminary final effort had given the Vixens confidence they could win from almost any position.
But they had also lost games this season giving up a substantial lead of their own, something they could not afford on Sunday.
“We’ve definitely lost this year from being up by a lot with throwing games away – and we’ve won from being down by a lot as well,” Mannix said.
“There’s been different situations that we’ve had to work our way out of, sometimes more successful than others.
“I guess we all really need to take confidence that you’ve got to go in with the fire to absolutely give it your all. There’s no ‘what ifs’ at the end of the game … it’s either you do it or you don’t – and if you don’t, then see you later.”