NSW Swifts have maintained their position on top of the Super Netball ladder with a comfortable 62-48 victory over the struggling Melbourne Vixens at John Cain Arena.
Buoyed by their nail-biting one-goal victory over the previously unbeaten West Coast Fever, the ladder leaders eased past the Vixens on Saturday to reclaim the Sargeant-McKinnis Cup and secure their fifth win from their last six contests.
Any hopes of the Vixens building upon last week's upset triumph over Sunshine Coast Lightning were quickly erased once the Swifts exploded out of the blocks with nine of the first ten goals to set up an 18-6 lead after one quarter.
The visitors surged ahead by 20 in the second term before a late Melbourne rally reduced NSW's halftime advantage to 31-15, then absorbed a strong challenge from the home side in the third quarter to build an unassailable 47-25 lead.
The Swifts have risen to the challenge in recent weeks despite the ongoing uncertainty over their upcoming fixtures due to the COVID situation in the Greater Sydney region.
"Obviously it's really challenging and we are thinking of those back home," NSW goal keeper Sarah Klau told Nine Network after the win.
"I think we are just grateful to be playing, bonding as a team and putting our best foot forward so trying to stay positive."
After stunning the Vixens back in round three by sinking 48 shots without a miss in a 12-goal win, Swifts goaler Sam Wallace repeated the dose with a 33/33 shooting effort before being replaced in the fourth quarter.
But it was the work at the defensive end that paved the way for the Swifts with Australian Diamonds duo Klau and Maddy Turner thwarting numerous Vixens attacking moves, the pair combining for 13 deflections, leading to five gains, in the first half alone.
Melbourne had no answer for the Swifts' defensive pressure with the defending champions facing an uphill battle to climb off the bottom of the ladder in the final month of the regular season.
But a late flurry of two-point shots from Mwai Kumwenda gave the home fans something to cheer about, the Malawi international sinking six Super Shots to help her side outscore NSW 23-15 in the final term.
"I think we kind of took the foot of (the pedal) and didn't put that really hard one-on-one contesting pressure on," Klau said about her side's fourth-quarter lapse.
"We will certainly look at that over the following weeks and continue to build that pressure."