By Grant Richardson
Game of The Week – Nunawading v Launceston
Saturday 1st August- 5:45pm @ Nunawading Stadium
Both the Nunawading Spectres and Launceston Tornadoes are fighting for third position in their respective conferences after each winning just one of their past four matches.
Recording the second highest total of the season and one of the biggest league wins in recent memory, the Spectres thrashed Canberra 119-37 last weekend. Nicole Romeo (29 points and 11 assists), Hayley Moffatt (27 and five steals) and Kate Oliver (27) helped Nunawading to 64% field goal shooting while Lucy Dawson added 17 and 14 rebounds.
Their challenge now is to repeat that performance against a contender with Launceston providing the perfect opportunity.
The Tornadoes look to have missed their chance for a top two finish in the South Conference after falling to Bendigo last round and they must now hold off the Lady Braves in the battle for third spot.
With strong recent form, Oliver could provide a foil for Mikaela Ruef who has recorded seventeen double-doubles this season. Hayley Munro will have to be at the top of her game to slow down Ally Wilson while Launceston’s Lauren Mansfield will look to control the tempo of the contest against Nunawading’s point guard, Romeo.
The Spectres will be full of confidence after their massive victory but their depth is still a concern, especially against the strong front court of Launceston whose 6-4 road record is better than Nunawading’s 5-5 record at home.
Prediction: Launceston by 6
Saturday 1st August –
Sandringham v Hobart
There was relief for Sandringham last round as they ended their 13-game losing streak with a win over Albury-Wodonga behind 23 points and 19 rebounds from Brittany Smart. Hobart were just three-point victors when they met in Round 1 but with top spot in the South Conference still available, their resolve should be too much to overcome.
Brisbane v Canberra
A tough finish to the season sees Brisbane play current finalists in four of their final five games so this clash against Canberra is a must-win as they continue to fight for third place in the East Conference. Canberra will not feature in the playoffs but will be looking to redeem themselves after being embarrassed by Nunawading last weekend.
Kilsyth v Bendigo
Following their massive 32-point win over Bendigo in Round 5, Kilsyth would be confident in maintaining their South Conference top spot. Chantella Perera is averaging 23 points in her past five games and will be looking to continue that form against her old club. Bendigo are in good touch, having won four straight games but they need to at least split the weekend to secure a playoff position.
Albury-Wodonga v Frankston
A strong finish to the season is keeping Frankston in the hunt for a top four place but they still need to rely on other teams losing. They were 15-point winners over Albury-Wodonga a fortnight ago with the battle between Kelly Bowen (24 points, 14 rebounds) and Kristina Baltic (22 and 14) the game-changer.
Sunday 2nd August –
Bendigo v Hobart
Bendigo will head home less than 18 hours after playing in Kilsyth although the Lady Chargers will be on the second game of a road-double. There was just two points in it when these sides met a fortnight ago as Elyse Penaluna (26 points, 11 rebounds) and Stacia Robertson (14 and 16) owned the paint for the Lady Braves. Neither team has a winning record against their conference rivals which they will be looking to amend heading into the playoffs.
Dandenong v Ballarat
Pitting themselves as the team to beat in the East Conference, Dandenong have trounced Nunawading and Geelong by an average margin of 30 points in the past two rounds. They have not lost to a conference rival this year and although Ballarat split Round 15, their 1-8 road record does not bode well as they are officially now out of finals contention.
Geelong v Nunawading
Second spot will be decided in the East Conference if Geelong are victorious as their head-to-head record will keep them above Nunawading even if they finish on the same amount of wins. The Lady Supercats are in a rut though, having dropped their past three while the Spectres ended their own three-game losing streak with a smashing of Canberra. A recovery of form is just as important as a second place finish as these sides head into the playoffs.