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It may have been a condensed league but there was nothing short about the quality of the NWBL 2022 with the Sureway Roller Hawks facing as fierce a test as ever in the Gold Medal game, as they battled their way to a fourth straight title. 

“Firstly, hats off to Perth for a really tough contest, they played the best ball I've seen them play. They adjusted really well after our Friday game, they really minimised the freedom and room to move of our shooters,” says Roller Hawks high pointer Tristan Knowles.


Perth bounced back from a 26 point loss to the Roller Hawks on Friday night and overcame a raucous home crowd to beat Darwin on Saturday to earn their spot in the Gold Medal game. 


“Despite winning comfortably in game one we always knew they would come out a different team. (Coach) Brendan (Dowler) did an incredible job at keeping us focused on our process and structure which has been the underlying foundation of our success for years now.”

Tristan 2022

“We knew Perth would have runs, they are a quality team so we made a real point of staying tight when things weren't going our way. We knew our structure would take good care of us which allowed people to really step up, particularly in big moments.”


None more so than Roller Hawks veteran Nick Taylor. The 42 year old was in exquisite touch, shooting 11 from 14 for 23 points, many of his baskets coming at crucial times.


“Nick Taylor was absolutely huge for us. Talk about a fine bottle of red, he was in vintage form and was clutch in critical points during the game.” 



“The sport knows that Nick is a world class shooter but he was a different beast in the grand final, a real luxury for us to have.”


Taylor is as pure a shooter as they come but he struggles to think of too many times he felt that good knocking them down in such a big game. 


“I was able to make a couple of shots early in the game,” explains Taylor. “I got my confidence up, and then just went hunting for the space to shoot the ball late in the shot clock if we weren't able to get inside the paint first. 

Nick Taylor 2022


“I managed to stay in the zone and just really enjoyed being in good shooting form for the biggest game of the season!”


Many of his looks came as a result of increased attention on Knowles, Perth going to great lengths to avoid the 39 point haul he got against them in the semi final.


“Perth did a great job of limiting Tristan to only 11 field goal attempts for the game,” says Taylor. 


“He's consistently been our best scoring threat, so to limit his opportunities was a good adjustment for them. Fortunately for us he was still able to score at a very high clip on the shots he did get and he was able to create opportunities for the rest of us to contribute as a result of all the extra attention he was getting.”


Knowles still finished with a triple double including an equal game high 24 points. His performance was enough to earn him Finals MVP to go with being named League MVP, High Point MVP, All-Star 5 and Highest Point Scorer.


Despite the accolades, he paid tribute to his teammates.


“Luke and Shawn have been so amazing for us at the business end of the season delivering exactly what we need in order to compete for a fourth title.”

2022 Huss Luke Tristan Stick

“Hannah (Dodd), Jarrod (Emeny) and Nick Scott were simply ruthless doing the grunt work, the engine room of the season and what makes this club successful.”

There is little doubt Knowles has found a way to contribute to what he says was already an awesome team but this year’s achievements may take a little time to sink in.


“We'll of course take a little bit of time to enjoy what we've achieved because grand finals don't happen everyday, let alone four in a row,” says Knowles.


The long wait due to the cancelled seasons making this title extra special. 


“It feels awesome to finally be able to defend our title after a couple of COVID cancelled seasons,” says Taylor. “There's a great sense of satisfaction amongst the group to be able to come out on top again after lots of training over the past couple of years with very little high level competition until recently.”


Captain Brett Stibners agrees.


“Especially after last year when we were undefeated and it got called off, I feel like they should’ve awarded us that one.”


“It feels fantastic, but there is still unfinished work.”


The ‘unfinished work’ is another championship. The Roller Hawks’ four consecutive titles is one short of the run Perth had between 2006 and 2010. And the seven they now have overall is still one shy of the eight Perth have in total. 


“We realise we have a massive target on our back and know that other teams want to knock us off the top of the mountain so we need to go back to the drawing board and find ways to get better and do the hard yakka over the off season,” says Knowles.