The shorthanded Cobra Women have stumbled in their Round 3 NBL1 doubleheader, falling short at home to Bendigo and on the road to Ringwood.
Article contributed by Cate Butterfield
It was a tough weekend for the Cobras women, who had no answers under the ring for league veteran Gabrielle Richards when they took on Bendigo Braves on Saturday night. It was the Cobras who were brave, double teaming the Bendigo centre to stop her rebounding but Richards was immoveable at the post, pulling down 12 rebounds and knocking in 28 points as the Cobras went down 64-70 at home.
The Cobras were without Lauren Nicholson, who was on the Gold Coast training with the Opals, but they did welcome back Alison Downie, fresh from the AFLW Grand Final. She fought tirelessly all night, applying constant pressure, and Clare Camac worked hard for her 21 points, six boards and three assists.
The Cobras line-up was also bolstered by Taylor Mathers, who made her Cobras debut against the Braves. If Mathers’ face looks familiar, that may be because she has been a regular spectator at Kilsyth over the past couple of seasons. Mathers’ fiancé is Cobra men’s import Isaac Turner, who replaced her in the grandstand on Saturday when she opened her Cobras’ account with a strong showing. She defied her early nerves, scoring five points and grabbing three rebounds in her 12 minutes on court.
It was a baptism of fire for the former Knox and McKinnon VBL player.
‘I was a bit nervous,’ Mathers said. ‘I knew it was going to be rough and that the competition was going to be a little bit more bumped up than I’ve played over here before but I was really excited. Sam asked us to come out and play with confidence so that’s how I went into the game. It was tough, and I’m still learning all of our plays, so I hope to improve, but I’ve been made to feel very welcome by the girls.
‘I always thought it’d be pretty cool to be a part of Kilsyth because it’s such a great club, so I’m really excited about the season.’
Cobras coach Sam Woosnam invited Mathers to join the roster to add some hustle and defensive pressure. The 26-year-old teacher from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania likes to ‘clean up under the basket’, and she did that well in her limited minutes against the big Braves on Saturday.
The Cobras were right in the contest against the Braves, and were all square with the visitors at the first break. They trailed by just two at the halfway mark but by the end of the third quarter, despite the teams trading threes, Richards and teammate Nadeen Payne had taken control. The visitors took the points with a six-point win, 64-70.
Sunday’s game didn’t produce the result the Cobras were seeking either. After trailing by only five points at the half, the Hawks ran away with the game in the second half, taking the points with a 68-51 win. Errors marred the Cobras’ game and the Hawks capitalised, banking 18 points from Cobra turnovers. Sarah Boothe battled valiantly, dropping 12 points and pulling down nine boards. The Cobras record drops to 1-3 after four games.
The Cobras men and women next take on Geelong Supercats at the Geelong Arena on Saturday 27 April and then return to Kilsyth on the Sunday to face the Melbourne Tigers.
Corey ‘Homicide’ Williams made the call earlier in the week that Kilsyth Cobras are hot favourite to take out the inaugural NBL1 competition, and the Cobras gave the outspoken former NBL MVP no reason to change his mind after taking the points over Bendigo Braves on Saturday night and again against Ringwood Hawks on Sunday
The NBL1 Cobra Men have been dealt a tough early season blow to their back court, with All-SEABL guard Isaac Turner set to miss the next four weeks after undergoing hand surgery. Turner underwent surgery to repair a small fracture in his off hand on Monday, having sustained the injury in the Cobras opening