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The Wollongong Roller Hawks remain atop of the NWBL ladder despite dropping a game to the much improved Sydney Metro Blues.


 Stibners vs Syd 2017

After failing to win a single game last season, Sydney have established themselves as genuine finals contenders this season, snatching a win on Saturday night over the previously undefeated Roller Hawks 67-64 and making the Roller Hawks work for their two wins over the weekend.


The Roller Hawks quickly took control in Friday night’s opener, racing to a 22-8 lead by quarter time only for the Metro Blues to work their way back into the contest thanks to Clarence McCarthy-Grogan who scored 10 of his 16 points in the second quarter to see the deficit cut to 8 by halftime.


The Roller Hawks steadied the ship in the third quarter through their defence, forcing the Metro Blues to throw up desperate shots  on multiple occasions as the shot clock expired, helping the Roller Hawks make a 12-4 run to start the second half and eventually go on to a 75-55 win.


Playing in his first game for Sydney, new import Joe Chambers went for 22 points with 6 rebounds and 6 steals but the Metro Blues looked even more comfortable with their new addition on Saturday night as they reversed the score from the previous night to lead 36-28 at halftime.


The Roller Hawks fought back in the third quarter to take a 2 point lead into the final period but couldn’t shake the visitors. With a 1:02 left to play Nick Taylor edged the Roller Hawks back in front 62-61. Sydney responded with back to back baskets to regain the lead 65-62 only for Taylor to reply with two more of his own to narrow the gap to 1.


With just seconds left in the game and needing to get the ball back, Taylor was forced to foul which sent Colin Smith to the line and Taylor out of the game with 5 fouls.  Smith connected on his first foul shot, but missed his second with Michael Auprince immediately fouling McCarthy-Grogan who grabbed the rebound to stop the clock with 7 seconds left and the Roller Hawks trailing by 2.


McCarthy-Grogan missed the first but landed the second, giving them a 3 point lead and Wollongong one final shot at staying alive.


Brendan Dowler called a timeout to draw up the play but in the ensuing play Chambers made a quick foul on Brett Stibners to prevent him firing off a three, instead sending him to the line where he missed both free throws allowing the Metro Blues to hold on.


The triple header then moved to Minto and the experience of the Roller Hawks shone through with the team making the necessary adjustments to lead throughout the entire game and eventually win 72-60.


“After letting their role players scored a combined 26 points on 62% shooting last night we made combatting that our defensive focus. That and playing honest defense on their main scorers set a platform for a much better performance.” said Roller Hawks coach Brendan Dowler after Sunday’s win.


“While we would have liked another 3 wins, you learn more from a loss than a win.”


“The second game was a bit of a different dynamic with probably the combination of complacency from us and a desire to redeem themselves from Sydney, and better cohesion with their new import that made them harder to handle than the previous night.”


“The way they are playing they are likely to be in finals contention so it’s good to have the split in case we finish on the same number of wins at the end of the regular season.”


The Roller Hawks next round of games are this coming Saturday and Sunday. Sunday’s game is part of a triple header at the Snake Pit with the Roller Hawks playing the opening game followed by Division 1 and Championship Men’s Waratah League games.





Saturday June 3: ROLLER HAWKS vs RED DUST HEELERS - 7pm @ Shellharbour City Stadium

Sunday June 4: ROLLER HAWKS vs RED DUST HEELERS - 9am @ The Snake Pit, Beaton Park