Sydney Metro Blues v Perth Wheelcats- Friday 28th June @ 5pm
Sydney Metro Blues v Perth Wheelcats- Saturday 29th June @ 7pm
The NWBL heads to Wollongong for Round 4 as the second and final Cluster Round is held for season 2019.
Second-placed Perth tip things off on Friday night before meeting the Blues again on Saturday with the home state side coming off the bye last round and sitting sixth on the ladder.
Having played at least two less games than every other team, Sydney Metro have time to make their way into the top four but that movement must begin this weekend as they hit the court four times.
Things will not be easy against the 7-2 Wheelcats but the Blues can take confidence from their performance against them in Round 1 when they fell by 14 points despite the best efforts of CJ McCarthy-Grogan (34 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists).
After spending the past week together at the Rollers camp, McCarthy-Grogan gets the chance to compete against Shaun Norris who countered his numbers with 33 points, 13 boards and 17 assists while another World Championship player, Michael Auprince, had 28 points and 11 rebounds.
Their strength in the paint is a concern for Sydney Metro and they will need assistance from the likes of import Jorge Salazar and Anderson Parker to crash the glass and restrict the Wheelcats’ second chance opportunities.
Red Dust Heelers v Wollongong Rollerhawks- Friday 28th June @ 7pm
Wollongong Rollerhawks v Red Dust Heelers- Saturday 29th June @ 5pm
Facing a tough challenge this weekend, Red Dust meet Wollongong on Friday and Saturday night in a battle between top and bottom on the ladder.
Unable to get the better of West Adelaide in Round 3, Red Dust did improve as the round wore on and they will be aiming to carry that momentum into these contests as they still chase their first win of the season.
Meanwhile, Wollongong are flying with a 9-0 record and if results fall their way, they could lock in a finals spot by the end of this weekend which would be an incredible achievement.
They easily dealt with Red Dust in Round 1 and the firepower of Brett Stibners and Shawn Russell as well as the play up and down the floor of Nick Taylor and Luke Pople makes them a dangerous foursome.
The Heelers have a lot of talent on their roster as well through Thomas McHugh and Jake Kavanagh while Ryan Morich and Rob Pike have been added since they last met Wollongong to match that offensive output.
Wollongong Rollerhawks v Perth Wheelcats- Saturday 29th June @ 9am
Wollongong Rollerhawks v Perth Wheelcats- Sunday 30th June @ 10am
The second series of the weekend for both teams will have major ramifications on not only the top four but the top two as Perth get the chance to narrow the gap between them and the ladder-leading Rollerhawks.
The teams have not met since the opening night of the season when Wollongong prevailed by 19 points as Stibners tallied 41 points including four three-pointers and Pople recorded 22 points with eight assists.
Norris had 30 points and 11 assists in response while Amber Merritt chipped in with an important 11 points. Interestingly, the Wheelcats had 17 more field goals attempts thanks to a significant advantage in offensive rebounds but ultimately, they could not make those shots count on the scoreboard.
Sitting only two wins behind Wollongong, this is Perth’s chance to make a run at first position before they have the bye in Round 5 but a sweep of their mini-series would place the Rollerhawks as the undisputed Championship favourites.
Sydney Metro Blues v Red Dust Heelers- Saturday 29th June @ 11am
Sydney Metro Blues v Red Dust Heelers- Sunday 30th June @ 12pm
Surrounding clashes against the top two teams, Sydney Metro and Red Dust will both be eyeing off these two games against each other as real chances to gain a couple of wins.
The Blues are three games clear of the Heelers in sixth spot and that is largely thanks to their offence as Red Dust only give up nine more points per contest.
If they can maintain their defensive pressure for all four quarters each game, the Heelers will have a chance but they must show significant improvement from their Round 1 meeting when the Blues secured an 89-38 victory.
Turnovers were the issue and Sydney Metro displayed the blueprint for their required defence as they converted 17 more steals into a winning score while also recording a 26-10 advantage in assists.
Salazar and McCarthy-Grogan dominated to combine for 47 points while Taitum Brown added eight points as one of eight Sydney Metro to hit the scoreboard, compared to Red Dust’s tally of five, led by Kavanagh (15 points).
West Adelaide Thunder v Queensland Spinning Bullets- Saturday 29th June @ 4.15pm
West Adelaide Thunder v Queensland Spinning Bullets- Sunday 30h June @ 12.15pm
In addition to the eight games in Wollongong this weekend, West Adelaide host their own two-game series against Queensland.
The top four will be shaped by these contests as well with the Thunder currently sitting fourth after ten games while Queensland are two wins behind but have a game in hand compared to the hosts.
They have only won two games on the year but one of those victories came in an upset over Perth last round while their past three defeats have come by an average margin of 3.3 points.
West Adelaide have four wins, one of which came against Queensland in Round 1 when they prevailed 45-40, as Phil Stephens recorded a triple-double of 13 points, 17 rebounds, 11 assists and Jay Dohnt had a double-double of ten points and 11 boards.
Tom O’Neill-Thorne was not playing in that game though and his presence will make things immensely tougher for the Thunder while they still need to be wary of Kurt Thomson and Dylan Gawthorne who reached double-figures in their Round 1 clash while Matt McShane had five points and eight assists.