• Register

As the Roller Hawks take to the training court in preparation for this weekend’s NWBL Finals Series, coach Brendan Dowler’s mantra at the start of the season continues to echo around the gym.

“Winning a championship is hard. Defending one is even harder”

The Roller Hawks face three sudden death games if they are to defend their 2017 crown since dropping to third place after losing their last two regular season games, both to top of the table Queensland.

Wollongong struggled to overcome the Spinning Bullets’ defensive intensity which restricted the Roller Hawks to their lowest total of the season.

“We need to focus on us, we need to knock down the easy shots when they come and play great defence like we know we can do.” says Roller Hawks centre Michael Auprince. “I have no doubts if we can put everything together there’s no team that can beat us.”

Round 9 Brett Stibners v Qld

Before the Roller Hawks can think about the Spinning Bullets or the second placed Kilsyth, they must first get past the Red Dust Heelers who, after starting the season losing three of their first four games (all against the other three finalists) went on to win 9 of their remaining 14 games to secure fourth place.

Red Dust Heelers’ import Josh Turek is the league’s leading points scorer averaging 31.8 points per game along with 8 assists. Five time Paralympian Brad Ness continues to be a force, averaging 16.7 points and over 10 rebounds per game while Jannik Blair is another player the Roller Hawks are wary of.

“We know exactly what they’re going to do, it’s just a matter of stopping it and making it as hard as possible,” says Roller Hawks captain Brett Stibners.

“There’s three guys we’ll match up pretty well with. All of them can shoot, all of them are pretty big so it’ll be a great contest,” says Auprince.

While the sudden death scenario is not ideal, rather than think about second chances and who they might play, the Roller Hawks have a simple focus, win and you’re still in.

“It’s daunting as well, we have to beat everyone there,” says Stibners.

“And that’ll be tough, they’re very good teams. We lost a couple of games we should’ve won so we put ourselves in this position.”

If the Roller Hawks can defeat Red Dust, they’ll play the loser of the Queensland vs Kilsyth game on Saturday for the right to play in the Gold Medal game on Sunday.


Friday 20 July

GAME 1: 6.00pm Queensland Spinning Bullets vs Kilsyth Cobras @ Brisbane

GAME 2: 8.00pm Wollongong Roller Hawks vs Red Dust Heelers @ Brisbane

Saturday 21 July

GAME 3: 6.00pm Loser Game 1 vs Winner Game 2 @ Brisbane

Sunday 22 July

GAME 4: 11.00am Loser Game 2 vs Loser Game 3 @ Brisbane (Bronze Medal Game)

GAME 5: 1.00pm Winner Game 1 vs Winner Game 3 @ Brisbane (Gold Medal Game)