BENDIGO'S Super Netball star Caitlin Thwaites says a six-goal loss to the Queensland Firebirds was the 'kick up the bum' the Melbourne Vixens needed ahead of next month's finals.
The Vixens suffered only their second defeat of the season when beaten 58-64 in Cairns on Sunday.
A disappointing result had no bearing on their final ladder position, with the Vixens having already secured the minor premiership following the previous week's win against Collingwood Magpies.
Melbourne was without Liz Watson for the second-straight game with an ankle complaint, while Thwaites started the match on interchange.
Her presence after quarter-time immediately ignited the Vixens, who trailed 18-12 at the first break, as they pulled within four-goals at half time.
The Vixens were able to seize the momentum by scoring six of the first seven goals of the third quarter, before the Firebirds steadied to regain their four-goal lead by the final break.
Despite the best efforts of Thwaites, who connected on three Super Shots in the final term, to make it a perfect seven from seven for the match, the Firebirds were able to edge clear to snare a third win from their last four games.
Thwaites, who missed just one shot on her way to 24 goals for the game, expected the Vixens to quickly move on from the loss.
"We kind of mentioned maybe it is the little kick up the bum that we need and thank you Firebirds for giving that to us," she said.
"You never want to have a loss which causes you to keep learning and keep fixing things up, but if that's what it takes for us to fix those things, well, thanks very much because we are going to fix them and we'll come out next week stronger."
Vixens coach Simone McKinnis praised the Firebirds' 'hunger and desperation', but similarly backed her charges to rebound strongly during the week ahead of their final round match against Sunshine Coast Lightning next Sunday.
"You don't like it (losing), but I think often getting hit with what you don't like is not a bad thing," she said.
"So, we had to sit there and listen to them sing the team song and all that sort of thing so it does hurt, but the fact is we're playing finals and it reinforces why we're here and what we want and we don't want to be going home without it, so we do have to get stuck into it this week, but we do feel good about what we're doing."
The Lightning will enter their clash against the Vixens in second place on the ladder, intent on staving off the third-placed West Coast Fever and fouth-placed New South Wales.
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