Cougars Round 6 NBL1 West Preview

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The Cockburn Cougars Women look to continue their hot form while the Men attempt to bounce back on the road to the Perth Redbacks on Saturday night.

It’s Round 6 of the 2022 NBL1 West season and for the Cougars it means a road trip to Belmont Oasis to take on the Perth Redbacks on Saturday evening.

The action gets underway with the Women’s contest tipping off at 5pm with the Men’s match to follow at 7pm.

The Women’s contest is a rematch of last year’s semi-final also at Belmont Oasis which the Redbacks won 74-70 and this is their first meeting of 2022 on the back of that end to the 2021 season for the Cougars.

Cockburn comes into the game on Saturday night on the back of handing the Mandurah Magic their first loss of the season last week with the 105-93 win.

That means the Cougars have started 2022 impressively winning four of their opening five matches coming into the clash with the Redbacks who have won just two of their six games so far this season under new coach Michelle Fletcher.

The Redbacks come into Saturday night’s game back on their home floor following a 17-point road defeat to the East Perth Eagles last Friday night.

Despite the Redbacks not quite clicking so far this season, they do present a significant challenge for the Cougars with Makailah Dyer in the back court, Jess Jakens up front, new import Kayonna Lee finding her feet and the emerging Shenae Hartree who is proving dangerous.

However, the Cougars were mighty impressive last week against Mandurah with Alina Hartmann entering the line-up for the first time in 2022.

She put up 16 points, five rebounds and five assists while Jessie Edwards was dominant with 36 points and 13 boards. Jewel Williams added 22 points and Kat Tudor 19 with that pair shooting a combined 9/17 from beyond the arc.

Cougars coach Tyrone Thwaites is happy with the start to the season and with the changes they’ve made coming into 2022 that appear to be paying off.

“We have close to the best depth of anybody and obviously, I’m biased when I say that, but our motto on the weekend with two girls out was just next girl up,” Thwaites told Perth Now – Cockburn.

“Last year was a bit of an experiment and we discovered this year that we wanted to put four shooters around her (Edwards) at all times and run like crazy.

“Our recruits reflected girls who wanted to play that style of play with Alina and Kat, being shooters who are very fit and can run the floor.

“We talk a lot about not riding the highs too high and the lows too low. We’re 4-1 and it’s a lovely way to start, but that can change in a heartbeat.

“From a coaching perspective, we’re certainly exploring if we were the opposition right now, what would we be doing to take our momentum away and we’re working through that from a coaching perspective.”

Then in the Men’s clash on Saturday night, it’s also a battle between two teams who reached the finals in 2021 and have had mixed starts to the 2022 season.

The Cougars now come into Saturday evening’s game with a 4-2 record having won their opening four matches of the season but having now since their last two against the Geraldton Buccaneers and Mandurah Magic.

The Redbacks have plenty of talent in their squad with Louis Timms, Zac Gattorna, Tevin Jackson and Joel Wagner all having NBL experience, and Jerami Grant seen as a gun signing to help offset the loss of Marshall Nelson in the off-season.

However, it’s been a bit of a struggle so far this season for the Redbacks having won just three of their six matches so far in 2022 while coming off a loss to the East Perth Eagles last Friday night.

With both teams holding out high hopes for what they can achieve in 2022 and needing to bounce back from last up losses, it should be a fascinating contest to close out the action on Saturday night at Belmont Oasis.