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The Sureway Wollongong Roller Hawks found a new gear over the weekend claiming three wins in the final round of the NWBL regular season and insist they can find another one or two before the Finals commence in Darwin in two weeks. 


The Roller Hawks accounted for Darwin (92-45) on Friday night and were too strong for Perth (94-75) on Saturday morning but it was Saturday night’s matchup against Queensland that was always going to be the most intriguing after the Spinning Bullets beat Wollongong last round.


The Roller Hawks took control early racing to a 22-12 lead at quarter time. The Roller Hawks consistently doubled Bullets big man Michael Auprince making life tough all night and forcing him to offload to teammates more than he wanted to. The visitors kept their opponents at bay throughout the game, winning 77-64.

 Tristan Knowles Round 3

“You consider where we were two weeks ago, Brisbane taught us a real lesson in basketball, what was really, really pleasing was the urgency the group showed at those times where games could go either way, we really dug in and went for it,” says Roller Hawk Tristan Knowles.


The three wins made all the more impressive in the absence of captain Brett Stibners who missed the weekend with illness (non-COVID related).


Tristan Knowles led the way averaging a triple double (33.3 pts, 10.3 reb,14.0 ast) for the weekend but gave credit to his teammates for playing to their systems.


“I knew that with Sticky not here his production needed to be picked up by the remaining players. Not so much the points, the really good thing about this team, and Brendan Dowler needs to take a bit of a bow for this, we’ve got some really good offensive structure which puts the right people in the right spots for the right shots and it’s just a matter of whoever is in that spot at the time to execute.”


Knowles was superb from outside hitting 19 from 30 (63.3%) for the weekend while Shawn Russell rolled back into the starting line up in Stibners’ absence and was a force under the basket.


“Huss was our big guy all weekend playing 40 minutes a game for three games bashing and crashing with the big boys and he had a marvelous weekend,” says Knowles.


Knowles, Russell and Luke Pople playing the full 40 minutes in all three games.


“It’s definitely a heavy workload trying to play the 40 minutes,” says Russell. 

 Shawn Russell vs Brisbane

“Teams here are pretty deep and they have the bench coming on with fresh arms and it’s hard to keep up the momentum but the veterans in our team showed up and slowed things down when we had to so we could play our game and not stoop to their level.”


Russell also paying tribute to coach Brendan Dowler.


“Brendan came up with a great plan to stop Aupie to take it away from him and make others do the work and I thought today was a perfect example of how we operate off Brendan’s words.”


The focus now turns to the NWBL Finals in Darwin from 15th July with Wollongong confident they still have another gear or two to go up, especially with the return of Stibners.


“As disappointing as a loss is, two weeks ago that really forced us to have a really good look at ourselves around how much we really, really wanted this,” says Knowles. 


“Building on that intensity and that urgency, I think we showed across the four teams we are prepared to work incredibly hard to be successful and that’s going to translate into our training over the next couple of weeks.”


The Roller Hawks finish the regular season in first place and will play the Perth Wheelcats on Day 1 of the Finals with the winner progressing directly to Sunday’s Gold Medal game. The loser will get a second chance by playing the winner of 3rd (Queensland) vs 4th (Darwin) who will meet in an elimination game also on Day 1.











Wollongong Roller Hawks






Perth Wheelcats






Queensland Spinning Bullets






Darwin Salties