The Southern Design Sydney Uni Flames will renew their rivalry with the Townsville McCafe Fire when the two teams meet in “The Inferno Clash” at SUSAC on Saturday night.
Recent history points to a close and exciting encounter, with the two clubs engaging in some fierce battles in recent years and developing one of the WNBL’s great rivalries.
Led by star duo Alicia Poto and Belinda Snell, Sydney Uni was able to snap Townsville’s six game unbeaten streak in the Far North on November 12 and the Fire will be keen to even the three-game series.
Snell and Poto sparked a stellar second half comeback in that game and the experienced Opals pairing have continued to be the barometer by which the Flames are measured.
Poto continues to direct the Flames attack with her poised play in the point guard position, while Snell brings scoring, passing and decision making to the small forward role.
It is that decision making and the ability to find the open player that has punctuated their performances in the first 12 games and has led to an efficient and versatile Flames attack.
For the Fire, import Shanavia Dowdell continues to log impressive statistics and is a virtual automatic double-double in the all important power forward position.
Her clash with one of the premier power forwards in the WNBL, Flames star Amy Denson, will be a highlight and looms as perhaps the key individual clash of the game.
Townsville guard and New Zealand international Michaela Cocks proved a handful for the Flames defence in the last clash and her up-tempo style provides match-up problems for opposition defences.
Flames coach Karen Dalton continues to stress the need for her team to improve and build on the solid start to the year.
“We have built a 5-1 record on the road, but we need to establish our home court and this game will be a challenge for us,” she said.
“Townsville has shown they will be right in the mix come finals time and this is a good test for us in the lead up to the mid-season break.
The Sydney Uni coach said the formula was the same for her team as they look to claim their tenth win of the season before Christmas.
“We need to defend and rebound, because Townsville is very organised, has different ways to score and is a well-balanced team,” she said.
“Our last game was a real battle and we expect this one to be the same, so the group is looking forward to the challenge.”
Tip-off for the big “Inferno Clash” is 7pm, with tickets available at the door.