ROUND 1 (CLUSTER ROUND) PREVIEW
Friday 8th April -
5.00pm- Sydney Metro Blues v RSL Queensland Spinning Bullets
After winning just two games last season, the Cluster Round gives the Blues the perfect chance to put the disappointment of last year behind them as they kick off season 2016 against the Spinning Bullets. They will have four chances to put a win on the board over the weekend but are likely to struggle to control the tempo on Friday night against Matt McShane and the experienced Tige Simmons who will look to get out in the open court.
7.00pm- Red Dust Heelers v Kilsyth Cobras
In a re-match of last year’s Grand Final, the Cobras will be looking to recreate their nine-point victory. In that contest, Australian Rollers Tristan Knowles (32 points, 13 rebounds) and Brad Ness (41 points and 14 boards) went head-to-head and you can expect another shootout between those veterans while Ness has the added pressure of representing Red Dust as player/coach this year.
9.00pm- Be Active Perth Wheelcats v Wollongong Roller Hawks
Perth will be keen to make a statement in their first game back in the league and will look to Shaun Norris as a leader on the court. However, the Roller Hawks will be equally keen on the opening night of the season as they followed a superb regular season with a disappointing finals campaign in 2015 to finish third.
Saturday 9th April –
9.00am- Sydney Metro Blues v Kilsyth Cobras
Both sides will be backing up from the night before with the Metro Blues afforded an extra two hours rest. That should not concern the defending champions too much as a squad with four Australian Rollers will be experienced with the tournament-like aspect of the Cluster Round. However, Sydney will also benefit from the knowledge of Australian Gliders Jess Cronje, Georgia Munro-Cook, Kylie Gauci and Sarah Stewart.
11.00am- Red Dust Heelers v Wollongong Roller Hawks
A couple of young guns will help Red Dust maintain the rage on the court in their second game in two days with Jannik Blair and Adam Deans keen to prove themselves while Luke Pople could be set for a similarly exciting season with the Roller Hawks.
1.00pm- RSL Queensland Spinning Bullets v Be Active Perth Wheelcats
A difference of four hours rest could be significant for the Spinning Bullets while the Wheelcats will be backing up from a tough clash against a likely Championship contender in Wollongong. Coming off a break in which he finished his schooling, a clear focus could set up Tom O’Neill-Thorne to be the leader for Queensland in 2016.
5.00pm- Kilsyth Cobras v Wollongong Roller Hawks
Following a Grand Final replay on Friday night, the Cobras will face a Semi-Final replay against the Roller Hawks in a tough start to the 2016 season. Playing their second game in six hours and their third for the weekend is a tough ask for Wollongong though.
7.00pm- Sydney Metro Blues v Be Active Perth Wheelcats
With both teams playing their third game for the Cluster Round, Sydney may be able to take advantage with the lack of travel time to Broadmeadow Basketball Stadium compared to Perth. For the Wheelcats, Andrew Dewberry looks to be an exciting prospect for 2016 as he will feed off Norris and bulk up their bench stocks.
9.00pm- RSL Queensland Spinning Bullets v Red Dust Heelers
The Heelers will finish the second day of the Cluster Round with a third game against a fellow 2015 finalist in arguably the toughest draw through the first 48 hours. Jake Kavanagh has reportedly changed his chair setup and will provide a shooting option from long distance which someone like Jordan Bartley will need to cover.
Sunday 10th April -
8.00am- Be Active Perth Wheelcats v Kilsyth Cobras
This match-up could give a fair indication of where the Wheelcats’ season is headed as they face the 2015 Champions on the final day of Round 1. Fatigue is sure to play a part in all three Sunday games and this is where the Cobras could take advantage with a deep bench including Brian Carminati and Will Crooks while Michael Damelio and Dan Del Toso will provide excellent mid-point support.
10.00am- Sydney Metro Blues v Red Dust Heelers
The Heelers end their opening round with their only contest against a non-finalist from last year and if they have struggled through the first two days, expect them to come out hard against the Metro Blues. Anderson Parker will be one to watch for Sydney this season, a competent shooter who also loves to crash the glass.
12.00pm- Wollongong Roller Hawks v RSL Queensland Spinning Bullets
A re-match of last year’s playoff for a bronze medal finishes off the Cluster Round as the Spinning Bullets seek revenge. They will have played four hours later than the Roller Hawks the night before though which, on the final day of Round 1, could play a factor.