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Cougars Preview | NBL1 West Round 8

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The double-headers continue in Round 8 of the NBL1 West season for the Cockburn Cougars starting on the road to the East Perth Eagles and then back to Wally Hagan Stadium to host the Warwick Senators.

The Cougars are back on the road on Friday night to begin Round 8 in the NBL1 West by taking on the Eagles for the first time in 2024 at the newly renovated Morley Sport and Recreation Centre.

The women’s match opens proceedings at 6.30pm followed by the men’s match up at 8.30pm.

It’s then quick rematch with the Warwick Senators from Saturday night with the Cougars hosting the Senators once more at Wally Hagan Stadium this Saturday.

The women’s contest gets underway at 5.30pm followed by the men’s at 7.30pm.


Cockburn Cougars coach Tyrone Thwaites was hoping for a sliding doors moment last weekend and he got that, but he knows the defending champions need to continue it in another challenging double-header.

Coming off a disappointing loss to the Willetton Tigers in the Grand Final rematch, the Cougars hit back impressively last week with the wins against the Perth Redbacks and Warwick Senators by a combined 75 points.

It’s now another double-header in Round 8 beginning on Friday night on the road to the East Perth Eagles at Morley Sport and Recreation Centre.

It’s an Eagles team who had the bye last weekend and prior to that broke through for a first win of the season against the Mandurah Magic with Mary Baskerville dominating with 34 points, 20 rebounds and five assists.

Thwaites is fully aware now of the threat they pose on Friday on their home floor with a dangerous starting group of Baskerville, Laci Hawthorne, Mary Goulding, Tessa Morrison and Sarah Allen.

“They haven’t been belted in any of their losses, so even though they are 1-6, they are a better team than that and their starting five is as good as anybody,” Thwaites said.

“I think they’re probably a little bit unlucky to not be sitting around the playoff mark at the moment.

“I guess the question is going to be their depth when they have to sub, but they’ve got two really good imports and Laci (Hawthorne) is playing in the righ position this year which helps.

“Mary (Baskerville) is playing really good basketball and Tessa Morrison is rock solid so we can’t take them for granted on Friday night. It’s not easy playing up there on a Friday so we will make sure we are ready to go knowing they’ll be fresh having had a week off.”

Once the Friday night game with the Eagles out of the way, the Cougars return home to play host to the Senators in a rematch from this past Saturday night where Cockburn won 87-70 at Warwick Stadium.

The Cougars will be looking to make it two wins in seven days against the 2022 champions, but Thwaites is expecting adjustments from the Senators and coach Brad Robbins along with the debut of WNBL, European and Australian star Marena Whittle.

“What adjustments we make are the big jigsaw pieces  probably going through Robbo’s head and my head this week,” Thwaites said.

“He’s got a little bit of a simpler road because they have just the single game and we have the double, so we have to manage that quite strategically in terms of how we prepare the group.

“I would expect a level of change from them and I know from a personnel point of view with Marena Whittle coming in gives them a different dynamic. That could be the best thing in the world for them or it can also be a little bit tricky to integrate in someone new.

“We expect they’ll be a little bit different to shift how we played them last week, but equally we have to think that through and make sure we’re not just expecting the same thing to get the same outcome because that can bite you in the bum.”


The Cockburn Cougars men have a double challenge this weekend against two talented and in-form opponents.

First up for the Cougars men is a road clash with the East Perth Eagles who are fresh off a win away to the Geraldton Buccaneers to see them improve to a 4-4 record on the season.

That leads into Cockburn having a chance at revenge on the Warwick Senators for last Saturday’s 20-point road defeat by hosting them at Wally Hagan Stadium on Saturday.

With Kyle Armour unavailable the next two weeks for the Cougars and with Seva Chan still working back from injury, and with Rhys Vague, Hunter Clarke and Josh Hunt all fighting to be fit, it’s the battle of the walking wounded for Cockburn.

That only adds to the complications for coach Mark Clayden with another double-header, but he knows he’ll learn a lot about his squad at the same time.

“Just when we thought things were getting better from a health point of view, it’s going to be a bit of a grind now for the next two weekends, but that will test on what we need to do and our resolve a little bit,” he said.

“We’ll see what we’re made of pretty much.”

Cockburn comes up against East Perth at Morley Sport and Recreation Centre on Friday night with Clayden not surprised that the Eagles follow the trend of bringing in a new face for the occasion – 2017 Grand Final MVP Lee Roberts.

The Eagles come into the clash on their home floor fresh off ending Geraldton’s 19-game home winning streak last Saturday night and with an impressive line-up featuring Sunday Dech, Jerami Grace and Taylor Young in the back court.

Roberts will then join David Okwera, Sebit Reath and Sharif Watson up front for the Eagles too so Clayden knows the Cougars are up against it, but he just wants to see his team compete.

“I think it’s the fifth game this year we’ve played where a team has brought in a new player to come up against us so we are getting used to that now, and they are coming off a good win up in Geraldton,” Clayden said.

“It’s always nice to go on a road trip and win and it probably galvanises your team a little bit more, and then they get to come home on a Friday night so you would expect them to be up and about.

“It will be a good test for us to see if we can match their emotion and see how we respond after being outworked which will be the big test for our boys to see if they want to compete, and if they are serious about this. That will be our challenge for sure.”

After that game on the road to East Perth on Friday, Cockburn is back home with a rematch from last Saturday against the Senators with Clayden just hoping for a more competitive performance from his team.

With some key players missing and up against a line-up featuring current or former NBL players Cody Ellis, Michael Harris and Todd Withers, he can accept if the Cougars get beaten in a pure talent for talent battle.

But what he can’t accept is seeing them getting outworked for the second time against the same opponent in the space of seven days.

“Knowing Coops and his style of play offensively, we always knew what they we were going to do, and everyone might know the style his teams play with and how thorough he is with his preparation, and he also has some firepower on that team,” Clayden said.

“Our issue was that we didn’t follow the scout on their two guns even though I do think we did a decent job on Withers, but we let Harris get away which he is always capable of doing. It was their next line of guys like Pearl and Shand that outworked us.

“That’s not a scout issue, that’s just letting someone outwork you and we can’t let that happen again. We have to be smart on trying to limit Harris and putting him in situations of making him work a bit like what Joondalup did to him on Friday.

“Our guys in the pressure of the game and a few other things going on kind of got away from that. That’s part of our developing group even though we’ve got a few experienced heads, when we have a Noah Stewart, Will Yarran or Jordy Lee, that’s a pretty inexperienced line-up.

“We just have to keep teaching at the moment, that’s going to be our focus.”

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