By Grant Richardson
Game of The Week – Hobart v N-W Tasmania
Friday 3rd July- 8:00pm @ Hobart Netball & Sports Centre
The Tasmanian interstate rivalry heats up again this weekend as the Hobart Chargers host the N-W Tasmania Thunder.
A victory against Canberra last weekend gave Hobart their fourth win from their past five matches. Tom Wright equaled his season high with 28 points while Kevin White nailed three three-pointers to go with six rebounds and four assists. In his debut, latest acquisition Anthony Freeman shot 4-6 for eight points before his overzealous play saw him fouled in 13 minutes.
N-W Tasmania look to have their season back on track after a slight stumble, also taking care of Canberra for a second straight win after dropping their previous four matches. Continuing his stunning form since arriving mid-way through June, Garrett Jackson collected 37 points and 12 rebounds, taking his season average to 25.3 and 11. Fred Hunter also starred, recording 27 and 11 with six assists and three steals.
When these sides met in Round 5, the Thunder was three-point victors but the sides have changed a fair bit since that clash. The Chargers still own the league’s best defence, allowing 71 points per game but their offence has improved with all six of their scores above 70 coming in the past five weeks.
N-W Tasmania can combat that with the second best field goal shooting percentage (46%) while it will be up to the likes of Shane Harris-Tunks and Aston Wills to combat Jackson.
If results go Hobart’s way, they could be in the top four at round’s end, a remarkable feat considering their 2-7 start. N-W Tasmania sit second but one poor round could see them fall out of a finals position and that threat should get them over the line.
Prediction: N-W Tasmania by 4
Friday 3rd July -
Albury-Wodonga v Brisbane
The inclusion of NBL veteran Tim Coenraad was not enough for Brisbane as they fell to Ballarat and Nunawading last weekend. Albury-Wodonga split Round 11 on the road and lost to the Spartans by seven points earlier in the year but they are unbeaten at home with a 6-0 record while the visitors are winless on the road.
Mt. Gambier v Dandenong
Even in such a dominant season last year, Mt. Gambier never strung together eleven straight victories, a feat they cleared in Round 11 with a 24-point defeat of Brisbane. Dandenong earned a hard-fought win against Albury-Wodonga last weekend and could take top spot in the East if the results go their way. The visitors were successful in Round 4, beating the Pioneers by five points when Daequon Montreal, Chris Patton and Lucas Walker all scored 20+.
Saturday 4th July –
Sandringham v Bendigo
The winner of this clash between third and fourth in the South Conference should be able to secure a top-four position while the loser will remain on the brink of a finals spot. In a Round 4 meeting, the Sabres used a 57-37 second half to win by 13. Alister MacDonald (25 points) won the shoot-out against Grant Johnson (20) in that clash while Rayshawn Goins (25 and six rebounds) had a great battle with Tony Lewis (25 and 15).
Canberra v Brisbane
After a tough Tasmanian road trip in which they lost by an average of 15 points, the Gunners will be happy to be at home for their next three games. Where the Spartans could take advantage will be on the boards as Canberra give up 13.5 offensive rebounds per game but they will have to contain Ben Allen, who found form over the weekend with an average of 27 points, 13.5 rebounds and four assists.
Frankston v Nunawading
The Blues put an end to their seven game losing streak last round, winning every quarter on their way to a 79-66 defeat of Sandringham. Nunawading were disappointing against Geelong in their biggest loss of the year but bounced back to defeat Brisbane the following day. The Spectres were nine-point winners just a fortnight ago against Frankston with Delwan Graham (23 points and 11 rebounds) and Brandon Polk (20 and 7 with five assists) set to battle again.
Ballarat v Hobart
Hobart will make the interstate trek to Ballarat after playing the night before while the Miners are coming off a 24-point trouncing of the Spartans. That victory has given them some breathing room from those below them on the ladder but they still sit two wins outside the East Conference top four and must overcome a Chargers side who scored their second highest total of the year when they were 14-point winners in Round 8.
Sunday 5th July –
Kilsyth v Sandringham
A season-defining round for Sandringham ends with a clash against seventh placed Kilsyth who still sit only a win behind the Sabres despite falling to Albury-Wodonga in Round 11. The visitors own a 5-3 road record this season but will be mindful of the margin in this game after an eight-point loss to the Cobras earlier in the year.
Geelong v N-W Tasmania
The Thunder have been afforded a day’s break in between this weekend’s matches but they will be coming up against a Geelong side who are riding high after thrashing Nunawading. They consolidated a 31-15 opening term with a 25-7 final quarter as Kimmani Barrett (25 points), Ash Cannan (15 and 10 rebounds) and Eric Gaff (nine points, 15 rebounds and seven blocks) controlled the match. N-W Tasmania will take confidence from their six-point win in Round 2 though.