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Cougars Preview | NBL1 West Round 4

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The Cockburn Cougars head south on a Friday night again in Round 4 of the NBL1 West season for two tantalising match ups against the Mandurah Magic.

The Cougars and Magic already locked horns back in the opening round of the 2024 season and now clash once more on Friday evening at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre.

The women’s match up begins at 6.30pm with the men’s contest to follow at 8.30pm in the only appearances of the Cougars for the weekend.


The Cockburn Cougars put their unbeaten run on the line on Friday night in a challenging trip to take on the Mandurah Magic.

While the Cougars have beaten the Magic in the last two meetings between the two teams on the opening night of this season and then the preliminary final of 2023, but winning in Mandurah has proven more challenging.

The Magic did beat the Cougars on their home floor by 32 points last season to handing Cockburn a first loss of 2023 and also by 26 back in 2022.

That means that the Cougars will be fully aware of how challenging it will be to come away with a win on Friday night with the reigning NBL1 West champions attempting to a win a 10th straight match dating back to last year, and a fourth in-a-row to open 2024.

While the Cougars did beat the Magic to start this season and going back to last season’s preliminary final, winning in Mandurah has been more challenging with the Magic winning the last two encounters at home over Cockburn.

Cougars coach Tyrone Thwaites is fully aware of the threat the Magic present especially on their home floor, but will have his team fully prepared for the battle that awaits.

“It is a tough trip and it hasn’t been friendly to us the last couple of years, but I think the good thing about that is it builds a resilience. We’ll be well and truly ready for that on Friday night,” Thwaites said.

“I went and watched them (Mandurah) last weekend and they are certainly feeling better after two wins, and they were good against Lakeside.

“Nicole Fransson moves really well, she’s an athlete and did a really good job on Teige Morrell in the second half. We know they’re physical and they are experienced, and will try to turn it into a grind.

“We’ll take nothing for granted, that’s for sure, and we’ll go down there well and truly prepared.”


The Cockburn Cougars men have won two of three games so far this season and will be looking to make it consecutive victories up against the Mandurah Magic on Friday night.

The Cougars opened the season beating the Magic 103-91 at Wally Hagan Stadium before losing on the road to the South West Slammers in Round 2 and then winning a tight one 88-84 at home to the Kalamunda Eastern Suns last Saturday.

Now Cockburn will be attempting to make it consecutive victories for the first time this season when taking on the Magic in Mandurah on Friday night.

It won’t be easy against the Magic, though, who might have only won two of the five matches so far this season, but they only lost last Sunday at the death to the Geraldton Buccaneers on the back of impressive wins against the Lakeside Lightning and Perth Redbacks.

While the Cougars did beat the Magic to open the season, they are a different looking team now with imports Joel Murray and Michael Durr up and going alongside Julian Pesava, Lachlan Bertram and Jarrod Molnar.

As a result, Cockburn coach Mark Clayden is fully aware of the threat they present.

“We knew with the three-headed monster they’ve got that they would be pretty tough after bringing in Molnar because I thought a lot of people might be underestimating, but we knew he could play,” Clayden said.

“Then the history with Jules and us goes a long way back and the wraps on Durr were huge, but then Utley finding Murray at the last minute after Taj fell through has given them another star.

“Then Lachie has had 40-point games in Champ Men regularly and has been the best player, so now that he’s their fifth option on the court and you have to worry about those other four, then he can show his talent.”

While Clayden is fully aware of how impressive that starting five unit for the Magic is, he will be hoping to create some mismatches out there and put some pressure on their depth.

“The big thing for us is knowing that their starting five is very good and then we will work out to try make sure they get in trouble at some point in time,” he said.

“We have to work out if we try to match up on them or give them the challenge to guard Rhys if Molnar or Jules are playing the four. It’s going to be a battle of who wants to stick with their style or who will cater to the others, and I think that will play a big part.”

Clayden is also hopeful that import centre Demetris Morant will be right to play for the Cougars after missing last week’s game against the Eastern Suns on the back of making his debut the previous Friday against the Slammers.

“Demetris is looking promising. He has been seeing the physio and he doesn’t have any pain at the moment, but I suppose with a calf you’re always kind of worried when a player is that little bit older,” Clayden said.

“You don’t want it to be something that lingers and he is a power athlete with his vertical leap a big part of his game.

“We probably could have put him out there last week but then he might have been carrying the injury a lot longer, so it wasn’t worth it and he’ll work out this week and if he isn’t feeling any pain in our last work out, then we’ll be able to get him ready for Friday night.”

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