The JCU Townsville Fire withstood a spirited Sydney Uni Brydens Flames, 89-80, in Townsville to signal they won’t back down in their quest to go back-to-back, with the Wattle Valley WNBL Championship they secured last year.
The win propels the Fire to the top of the ladder while Sydney slip to fifth, in the danger zone, with the top four proceeding to the finals and just a few rounds remaining.
In one of the tightest competitions in recent memory, both heavyweight teams displayed finals hunger and intensity.
Each squad was missing a key player, Townsville’s Tamara Tatham, out for the season and the Flames, Carolyn Swords, hoping to return at some stage from hand surgery. In a frenetic contest, where the lead changed numerous times, no side could land the winning blow till the final three minutes when the Fire pushed clear.
For Townsville, #22 Cayla George, showed her Jayco Opal mettle with a game –high 22 points including a whopping 18 rebounds. It was just as well for the Fire that George and #10, Mia Murray, 19 points, led the charge as arguably the competitions MVP so far #8, Suzy Batkovic, was hounded all night by the Flames, severely restricting her scoring.
Despite feeling the loss, the Flames were impressive in every facet and produced some of their best stats of their season with a team total of 18 Assists and 33 Rebounds, and if they can reproduce that commitment in coming weeks they will be hard to deny.
Five Flames players hit double-figures and it was great to see the variation in point of attack pay dividends, with #3 Hayley Moffatt, better known for her link play and defence, bag an impressive 13 points.
The Flames continue on the road taking on SEQ Stars at Logan this Sunday, 31 January, 4pm, QLD time. Capping an impressive career, the Brydens Flames, Rohanee Cox, will achieve her 300th WNBL appearance at this game.