The Melbourne Vixens are the comeback queens of trans-Tasman netball after reaching into their vast reserves to pull off yet another nail-biting victory, 50-49 over West Coast Fever.
The Vixens surrendered a five-goal lead midway through the final term but fought back as the lead changed hands several times before goal shooter Karyn Howarth produced the winning goal with 28 seconds left after a midcourt intercept by skipper Bianca Chatfield.
It was the third time this season the Vixens had won by a single goal on their home court, Hisense Arena. It was the fourth time this season they had trailed at halftime and recovered to win.
Her nerves doubtless frayed after her team stayed in the hunt for top spot going into the finals, Vixens coach Julie Hoornweg said they needed to find a solution to their slow starts.
"We are doing this horrible thing on not playing well in the first half and it just can't keep going and we are chasing our tails in the second half," said Hoornweg.
"We have tried different combinations to try to find some energy but I was pretty disappointed in the attack end today, our shooters just didn't stand up.
"They weren't strong enough and they weren't accurate in the first half."
After brilliant shooting from Fever duo Caitlin Bassett and Catherine Cox, West Coast were in control with a five-goal lead at halftime.
The Vixens shooters had been unable to create space and Hoornweg changed combinations, using Kate Beveridge, Tegan Caldwell, Karyn Howarth and Ashlee Howard at different stages.
Howarth came on at the start of the second quarter and impressed with nine goals from 11 opportunities. During the third quarter she took the Vixens to the lead with a burst of six goals in five minutes.
It looked as if the Vixens had broken the Fever's spirit when their lead stretched to five goals early in the final term but Bassett, who finished with 33 goals, had other ideas and the Fever scored eight consecutive goals to grab ascendancy.
Hoornweg made one final change, returning Caldwell to the court and the more experienced Vixens combination steadied.
With the scores tied at 49-49 and just a minute left the Fever was in control of the centre pass but an errant throw from the midcourt was intercepted by Chatfield who pushed her team deep into attack.
With just 28 seconds left Howarth scored the winning goal to maintain the Vixens remarkable record.
The Vixens will travel to New Zealand for their final two games of the home and away season.