It’s the battle of undefeated NBL1 West women’s teams when the Cockburn Cougars host the Joondalup Wolves on Saturday with the Cougars men also looking to make it consecutive wins.
Round 6 of the 2023 NBL1 West is shaping as a massive one for the Cougars as they host the Wolfpack on Saturday evening at Wally Hagan Stadium.
The women’s contest tips-off at 5.30pm with both teams entering the match up yet to lose so far this season. The men’s match up follows at 7.30pm with the Cougars attempting to back up their emotional win last week against the Lakeside Lightning.
The last two remaining undefeated NBL1 West women’s teams do battle on Saturday at Wally Hagan Stadium when the Cockburn Cougars play host to the Joondalup Wolves.
The Cougars have made a dominant start to the season with four consecutive wins and they put that undefeated record on the line on Saturday against a Wolves team who has won their opening eight matches.
The last time both teams lost was when their seasons ended in the finals last year with the Cougars losing in heartbreaking fashion to the Willetton Tigers, while the Wolfpack also lost to that same Willetton team a week later in the preliminary final.
It has been an emphatic start to the new season from the Cougars with the four wins with the last two coming against the Lakeside Lightning on the back of the wins over the Willetton Tigers and Rockingham Flames.
The four victories have come with an averaging winning margin of 31.3 points with the Cockburn offence still building nicely with 91.8 points a game, but it’s at the defensive end where the big strides have been made in 2023 with the opposition only scoring 60.5 points a game.
There’s been plenty to like with what the Cougars have been doing with Sarah Mortensen delivering 21.5 points and 12.5 rebounds, Jewel Williams 19.3 points, 4.5 assists and 4.0 boards, and Steph Gorman 17.8 points and 6.8 rebounds.
On top of that, Jessie Edwards is putting up 16.5 points and 8.0 rebounds with captain Kirsty Whitfield adding 4.8 points, 4.0 assists and 3.8 rebounds with Kinley Paterson, Ella Summers, Harriet Ford and Amelia Corasaniti playing handy roles.
They now come up against a Wolfpack team on Saturday who have opened up the new season with seven consecutive wins on the back of also starting last season with a 16-game winning streak.
The Wolves have been dominant in the seven wins with two against East Perth along with one each against Rockingham, Kalamunda, Perth, South West and Goldfields by an average of 32.6 points.
Joondalup has been in some ominous form with Teige Morrell delivering 21.4 points and 10.1 rebounds, Robbi Ryan 21.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists, and Nes’eya Parker-Williams 13.0 points and 9.6 boards leading their charge.
It all builds up to a mouth watering match up this Saturday at Wally Hagan Stadium and Cougars coach Tyrone Thwaites is looking forward to it.
“I guess so far this year with so many players missing from the women’s league at different stages, whether through injury or having not arrived yet, makes it really hard to get a gauge on how teams are tracking,” Thwaites said.
“It’s really hard to get a handle on the league but we know that Joondalup are good and they are really well coached, and we know what Robbi Ryan and Teige Morrell can do. It’s going to be really fun on Saturday night to go toe to toe with them.”
After four wins where the Cougars dominated their opponents, Thwaites is now excited to be taking on the only other undefeated team left in the competition.
“It is exciting preparing for a game like this,” Thwaites said.
“Sometimes you get nervous about the games you know you should win and that’s what it has been a bit like over the first four games, but this is when the fun stuff starts with games like this.
“It’s going to be a real test to see where we’re really at and when the game is on the line and things start to tighten up, how does the group respond.
“It’s not the be all and end all because it’s only game five for us, but it’s certainly going to be a really nice test to determine where we’re at.”
The Cockburn Cougars men broke through for their first win of the season last Saturday night and will look to back that up hosting the Joondalup Wolves this Saturday.
After starting the season with the five consecutive defeats, Cockburn broke through to defeat the Lakeside Lightning 83-77 last Saturday on an emotional night paying their respects following the passing during the week of Vanessa Cooper.
Cockburn is now back to Wally Hagan Stadium this Saturday night to host a Joondalup team in a clash of two teams who finished in the top four at the end of the 2022 regular season.
The last time the two teams met was back on July 2 last year also at Wally Hagan Stadium with the Wolves beating the Cougars 100-93. Joondalup also won the earlier clash in the season at HBF Arena by a point in a thrilling contest.
The last time the Cougars beat the Wolves was way back in Game 2 of the quarter-final series of 2017. Joondalup has won nine straight games against Cockburn since including Game 3 of that series and a match up during the West Coast Classic in 2020.
Despite the recent rough run against the Wolves and with coach Andrew Cooper yet to taste a win against them since taking over as Cougars coach, he remains confident what his team can do and to build on what they did in beating Lakeside last week.
“Joondalup’s an interesting one. As I say just about every week, if we get it right we are going to be tough to beat and it’s on our home floor where we’ve got a little bit of confidence now and the guys understand what they need to do to get the win,” Cooper said.
“We’re certainly not intimidated even though we know they’ve got a good roster, but they’re trying to find their way a bit too and have had a few disruptions like most teams. We certainly won’t take them lightly because we know they are capable of beating anyone on their day.
“It should be a good match up and they’ve got some big bodies there which will be interesting for our guys, but that’s another challenge that we take on and it will also just depend on who we have available to put on the floor a little bit.”
While Josh Hunt and Seva Chan remain in doubt to play for the Cougars, with Kieran Berry stepping up well as point guard in the absence of Chan and then with the form of Taj Benning, Courtney Alexander II, Luke Phillips and Keegan Phillips building, Cooper is confident of covering for them.
“Josh has got a broken nose and that was from his clash with Kyle (Armour) and Seva’s still nursing an injury so we’re not quite sure if he’ll be available yet,” Cooper said.
“Everyone else is good to go but Josh and Seva might be in a bit of doubt. That’s what made our win even better on Saturday with Josh going out just as he was playing well. He had found his groove and was going well so that was a shame for him.”