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The Sureway Wollongong Roller Hawks sit atop the NWBL ladder after one round, claiming victory in all three games to get their title defence off to an ideal start.

The strength and depth of the Roller Hawks was too much for their opposition to handle as Shawn Russell, Tristan Knowles and Brett Stibners dominated the box score on Friday night before Luke Pople and Nick Taylor came to the party in the two remaining games to see the Roller Hawks boast five players in doubles figures against both Queensland and Darwin.

 Round 1 Perth 1

“It was a solid start to the season and good to come away with the three wins,” says Roller Hawks coach Brendan Dowler.

“We were a bit rusty and we need to work on our combinations with these being our first competitive games in nearly 12 months. We need more consistency and focus to put teams away when the opportunity is there, but the effort was good and we'll build on this into the next round at home in two weeks.”


In Friday night’s opening game, a Perth team minus Aussie Roller Shaun Norris stayed with the Roller Hawks for much of the first quarter but a 10-0 run by Wollongong to start the second quarter left the home side reeling with the Roller Hawks leading by 20 points at half time. The Roller Hawks didn’t take their foot off the pedal in the second half either, rolling out 91-50 winners.


Saturday’s game against the Queensland Spinning Bullets was a closer affair but Wollongong still finished 75-61 winners with Tristan Knowles registering a triple double and Luke Pople, Shawn Russell, Brett Stibners and Nick Taylor all getting into double figures while Nick Scott and Hannah Dodd also got on the scoreboard with some crafty pick and roll play.


Leading into Sunday’s game against Darwin, Roller Hawks captain Brett Stibners had earmarked the Salties as one of the tougher teams in the competition and they proved just that despite star player Tom O’Neill-Thorne not suiting up due to a back injury.


Wollongong led at every change but even down by 8 at three quarter time, Darwin was still within striking distance. But with Roller Hawks’ fresh players and plenty of weapons compared to Darwin, reliant on their starting five, it was the defending champions that were able to snap shut any thoughts of a Salties comeback, starting the final period with an 8-2 run with Russell the major benefactor scoring all 8 points to help steer his team to a 76-56 win.


“We have a deeper bench than previous seasons and were able to rotate our squad more than other teams this weekend which was a benefit down the stretch. It meant that some of our more agile players like Pople and Russell were fresher and able to use this to close out games,” says Dowler.


“It was pleasing to have a lead in the first game and be able to give all players in the squad some time on the court to start the season. Our first halves in the second and third games weren't where we needed to be and so the rotations were shorter as we didn't take control of those games until the second half.”


In other results, Darwin got their inaugural season off to a winning start defeating Queensland 65-37 on Friday night. The Wheelcats opened their account on Saturday with a win over Darwin 66-53 before edging out Queensland in the final game of the round 67-60. 


Attention now turns to Round 2 at Shellharbour City Stadium from 17th to 19th June.









Wollongong Roller Hawks






Perth Wheelcats






Darwin Salties






Queensland Spinning Bullets