ROUND 2 PREVIEW
Sydney Metro Blues v Wollongong Rollerhawks- Friday 6th April @6pm
Sydney Metro Blues v Wollongong Rollerhawks- Saturday 7th April @6pm
Wollongong Rollerhawks v Sydney Metro Blues- Sunday 8th April @12.30pm
A re-match of last year’s Grand Final tips off Round 2 but with the current ladder positions, this contest could take a different shape compared to the final game of 2017.
Wollongong sit in first place after getting their Championship defence off to the perfect start with an unbeaten record through the first weekend. Brett Stibners dominated with two triple-doubles to earn the Player of the Week award but Luke Pople and Nick Taylor also impressed while Shawn Russell looks to have fitted in seamlessly with his new team.
An ominous sign for the rest of the competition is that the Rollerhawks succeeded in Round 1 without big man Michael Auprince but Wollongong will again be missing his presence under the rim this weekend.
Sydney Metro have their own personnel issues and that was the main reason for their winless start to the season as they struggled to put together competitive totals without CJ McCarthy-Grogan or import Joe Chambers.
Neither player will be available again in Round 2 and while their WNWBL contingent including Georgia Munro-Cook and Kylie Gauci will be diligent defensively, the Blues will struggle to match Wollongong on the scoreboard and that is where the Rollerhawks should have a major advantage.
Queensland Spinning Bullets v Kilsyth Cobras- Friday 6th April @7pm
Queensland Spinning Bullets v Kilsyth Cobras- Saturday 7th April @7pm
Queensland Spinning Bullets v Kilsyth Cobras- Sunday 8th April @10am
Following the Grand Final replay between Sydney Metro and Wollongong, the Spinning Bullets and Cobras will meet in a re-match of the 2017 bronze medal playoff.
Both teams will be pleased with their starts to 2018 as Kilsyth sit equal on top of the ladder with a 4-0 record after Tristan Knowles (36.3 points and 11.5 assists) and Jontee Brown (18 points and 15.3 rebounds) averaged double-doubles for the round.
Queensland only dropped one game to be placed third thanks to a healthy spread of scorers with seven players averaging over five points per contest. Aussie Roller Tom O’Neill-Thorne led them with 20 points, 9.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game and he was also integral to the Spinning Bullets’ bronze medal win last year when he recorded 36 points and 12 assists.
He will need to be at his best to counter Kilsyth’s work on the glass but he will get help from players like Jake Fulwood and Steven Elliott who made his debut for the national team last weekend during a trip to Italy and will be full of confidence.
The Cobras will be wary of Queensland’s depth and playing on the road makes their task even harder but looking to bounce back from last year’s disappointment could be the spark needed to exact their revenge.
Adelaide Thunder v Perth Wheelcats- Friday 6th April @7.30pm
Adelaide Thunder v Perth Wheelcats- Saturday 7th April @6.30pm
Adelaide Thunder v Perth Wheelcats- Sunday 8th April @12pm
Each owning a 1-3 record after Round 1, this three-game match-up provides an opportunity for one side to put themselves in contention for the top four and assert themselves on the season.
Adelaide have already improved on their mark from 2017 after defeating Sydney Metro a fortnight ago. Adam Roocke led them in scoring as he did all of last year but the addition of Jay Dohnt has already paid dividends while Beau Buckley and Phillip Stevens were consistent contributors across their four games.
The Wheelcats faced the toughest schedule of any team in Round 1 as they fell to the top three teams on the ladder but they recovered to take care of the Blues while they only lost by three points to Kilsyth which should give them confidence moving forward.
Four-time Paralympian Shaun Norris was again their main focus at the offensive end and Adelaide will have to work on keeping him quiet but Norris had help from Andrew Dewberry who averaged over 15 points per game while Thomas McHugh collected a double-double for the weekend.
That injection of youth is just what the Wheelcats need to improve on last year’s performance but this weekend will offer a test of their fortunes in 2018 as the Thunder will be looking to make a statement that they are a team to be reckoned with this season.