13 Oct Cougars produce first half masterclass to break Tigers resolve
The Brisbane North Cougars secured their seventh victory in as many games when they faced the Carina Leagues Club Tigers at Nissan Arena on Saturday.
An explosive 41 goals first half from the Cougars helped establish a healthy lead and deter a late surge from a resilient Tigers side, including shooter Reilley Batcheldor, returning to the courts a year after suffering a serious ACL injury.
The Tigers were not given any time to settle into the game as they were immediately confronted with the energy and intensity that has terrorised the Cougars’ opponents all season.
All of the ladder leaders’ assets were on full display, and the quality was evident in each third of the court. Ruby Bakewell-Doran, still recovering from an ankle injury, provided valuable assistance to Remi Kamo in disrupting the Tigers attack, Chanel Dyer was incisive in feeding the shooters and Ally McLeod acted as a crucial link between her teammates as she stepped into the role of Centre with aplomb.
Liz White has instilled exemplary organisation into the Cougars line-up and the Tigers struggled to find cracks in the chain, moving sideways as often as forwards in search of goal. However, they seized the few chances they were afforded and Amy Sommerville’s proficiency in front of the post limited the damage caused by the early onslaught.
The scoring rate slowed in the third quarter, but the Cougars continued to extend their lead and decrease the likelihood of any comeback. Martina Reekers was as accurate as she has been in her young Sapphire Series career and, alongside Firebird Mia Stower, led the team swiftly past a half-century of goals after Rylie Holland was forced to leave the court.
Batcheldor found her scoring rhythm at the other end of the court and as a whole the Tigers improved as the game progressed. Hayley Mulheron showed her international experience by forcing several turnovers, but the Tigers often faltered when attempting to convert the resulting possessions into goals, producing loose passes in critical moments.
However, their perseverance was rewarded in the closing fifteen minutes. The Cougars appeared to lose concentration and allowed errors to creep into their game, much to the dismay of Coach Liz White, who delivered a stern speech during a time-out called with 3 minutes remaining.
The Tigers capitalised effectively, winning the quarter and temporarily moving ahead of the Bull Sharks into 5th place on the ladder. Sommerville and Batcheldor provided a glimpse of what would have been a fearsome partnership this year, while the talent shown by Alice Mauga and Alana Schuster suggests that the team has a bright future.
The teams will return to the Sapphire Series in a fortnight’s time, when the Cougars will look to maintain their flawless record and the Tigers aim to keep their finals hopes alive.
Cougars 66 Tigers 51