Thunder desperate to regain winning ways

BRAD COLE   THE ADVOCATE   On a SEABL ladder which has reached a significant logjam, North-West Tall Timbers Thunder coach Sam Armstrong is only interested in the column that contains the amount of wins his team has.

Currently sitting at 8-7 with five games remaining, the Thunder are looking to rebound from a costly road trip last weekend which saw them drop out of the top eight.

They play host to Dandenong at Ulverstone on Saturday night in a game that promises to have significant ramifications if they lose.

The Rangers themselves are back in the mix after also losing both their games last round, and Armstrong said it shapes as a “desperate” encounter.

“They are just as desperate as us and it makes Saturday night’s games vitally important,” Armstrong said.

“With five games to go we will probably need to win at least three of those to give ourselves a chance, but that gets us to 11 wins and we would have to rely on some other results.

“We don’t want to get in the situation where we are relying on other teams to decide our fate, but with such a logjam on the ladder, we could win all our games and it’s still going to be tight.

“But we’re looking no further than getting the win on Saturday night first.”

The game against Dandenong will be the second time the two sides have met this season.

The first match-up saw the Thunder in control on the road, leading by 15 points at three-quarter time before the Rangers went on a 36-13 blitz in the final quarter to win.

Armstrong said that result is still one that stings with the ladder the way it currently is.

“That one really hurts when you look back now because it would have put us on nine wins and firmly in the top eight,” he said. 

“It was a game we were firmly in control of and in the space of five minutes, the game turned on its head.

“But we move on and get another crack at them this week.”

Helping the Thunder’s cause this week is the absence of leading Dandenong scorer Anthony Drmic, who has been called up as an injury replacement to the Australian Boomers World Cup qualifying team.

While Armstrong is likely to have a full team available, he admitted that point guard Mason Bragg (knee) and centre Paul Campbell (achilles) will have to be managed through the rest of the season.

“They are probably better than what they were last week, but only marginally,” Armstrong said.

“Mason missed NWBU on Tuesday night but Paul played and pulled up a little ginger on Wednesday.

“It’s about how we manage them now for the rest of the season now and get them to a level where they can contribute each week.

“As we all know Mason relies on his pace, it’s a huge part of his game, and he can’t quite get that explosion and therefore it diminishes the things that he is really good at.”

Saturday night’s game at the Ulverstone Sports and Leisure Centre gets underway at 7.30pm.

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