07 Sep Cougars avenge Grand Final defeat
The Brisbane North Cougars have delivered a clear warning to their HART Sapphire Series competitors with a dominant 68-48 victory over the Wildcats in a repeat of the 2019 Grand Final.
Shooters Mia Stower (22/29), Rylie Holland (27/30) and Martina Reekers (19/25) were in devastating form as the Cougars recorded their highest goal tally of the season so far and maintained their perfect start to the season, reinforcing their status as favourites for this year’s competition.
Reekers started alongside Stower due to concerns over a calf injury suffered by Holland in the lead up to the game and the new pairing was initially frustrated by an energetic Wildcats defence led by Lenora Misa.
An upset appeared to be on the cards as the Wildcats managed to open up a 5-goal lead largely courtesy of former Firebirds shooter Beryl Friday (31/34).
However, the introduction of Holland with 5 minutes remaining in the opening quarter signalled the beginning of a rapid comeback from the Cougars and the storied club entered the break with a 14-12 advantage.
Any doubts surrounding Holland’s match readiness were put to rest as she scored with each one of her 7 attempts and provided the needed strength and experience in the circle.
Just like their match against the Thunder it was the second quarter where the Cougars flexed their muscles. The attack was largely faultless, while at the other end of the court unassuming Goal Keeper Remi Kamo continued her emphatic start to the campaign, seizing several vital rebounds. Errors began to derail the Wildcats’ game against opponents that were quick to punish any mistakes and create yet more scoring opportunities.
Ultimately the Wildcats could not recover from the 21 goals conceded in that second term but were able to slow down the Cougars from there on. Coach Danielle Edwards returned to her starting seven for the third quarter and the re-introduction of captain Hulita VeVe settled the team as they aimed to prevent further losses.
Misa and Danielle Taylor forced the Cougars to remain alert and constantly adapt to new positions. However, the Brisbane North side rose to the challenge, finding answers to all questions asked by the defence. Reekers looked comfortable playing at the Sapphire Series level and her ability to shoot from anywhere in the circle complemented Stower’s proficiency from range and Holland’s dominance at the net.
Wildcats Goal Attack Briony Payne (11/19) found her form in the last quarter and the dynamic Brittany Mould brought positive changes at Centre. However, the quality and depth of the Cougars across each third enabled them to stretch their lead by 5 and ensure that they scored 60 goals or more for the fourth consecutive game.
The Cougars face an enticing top-of-the-ladder clash against the Jets in Round 5, while the Wildcats will look to solidify their finals position when they play the Tigers.
Brisbane North Cougars 68 Wildcats 48