The Melbourne Vixens today conjured a second thrilling come-from-behind victory in eight days, overrunning the defending champion Queensland Firebirds 52-51 to remain unbeaten after five rounds of the ANZ Championship.
Heroine-of-the-week honours passed from Tegan Caldwell to first-year shooter Karyn Howarth, who nailed two goals in the last 70 seconds, and 13 from 16 attempts after replacing Kate Beveridge late in the third quarter.
As happened last Sunday against the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic, the Vixens' winning goal came with just seconds remaining, after Melbourne trailed by eight early in the last term.
It was the top-of-the-ladder Vixens' second win over the Firebirds in the space of five weeks, the first having come in Brisbane with a 47-42 upset in the opening round.
The dominant team of 2011 has now won just one of its five games - including four losses against Australian rivals - in 2012.
Aside from Howarth's heroics, the admirable Caldwell scored 27 from 33 attempts, while the Firebirds' Romelda Aiken shot a game-high 33, despite being well-shadowed by Geva Mentor, whose defensive pressure was critical in the clutch.
Goal defence Julie Corletto was also brilliant, helping turn around a slow Vixens start when switched from the wing in the second quarter.
The Vixens make their first trip to New Zealand for next Monday night’s match against the Canterbury Tactix in Christchurch.
Earlier, federal Sports Minister Kate Lundy announced a $2.6 million grant towards the establishment of a permanent home for netball in Melbourne.
The new administrative offices will house Netball Australia and the ANZ Championship's Australian operations, the Australian Netball Players’ Association and the Asian Netball Federation secretariat, along with an exhibition of Australian netball and its history.
"Our job as a sport, as an almost all-female sport, is really important in that we have a responsibility to empower women and change communities so coming together and working together under the one roof will make sure that we are all working on the same job," Netball Australia chief executive Kate Palmer said.
A decision on where the site is developed is expected later this year.