Fire ready for old foe

November 9, 2017 | Townsville Fire news

The WNBL’s most fierce rivalry will be reignited on Saturday night when the JCU Townsville Fire host Bendigo.

Having contested three straight Grand Finals, there is no love lost between the two teams, despite sitting at opposite ends of the WNBL ladder.

A 42-point victory over Adelaide on Sunday has propelled the Fire (5-3) into second place, while the Spirit (2-5) sit seventh following a nail-biting win over Melbourne.

The Spirit face a challenging weekend, however, after the loss of star forward Kelsey Griffin to a hip injury for the remainder of the season and a clash against the Sydney Uni Flames (6-2) on Thursday night.

“I know Kelsey Griffin is an amazing player and is obviously a huge part of their team, but more often than not you find that teams really rally together and play a lot better as a team,” Fire point-guard Kelly Wilson said.

“They try and make up for the loss of one of their star players. I expect Bendigo to do nothing less than that.

“While it’s good (for the Fire) to be near the top of the ladder, I think any team in this league can beat anyone on any given day so you have to be ready to play.”

Having captured their season-best form at the weekend, the Fire are looking to bottle the offensive rhythm they found against the Lightning with skipper Suzy Batkovic leading five players into double figures.

Wilson and Mikhaela Donnelly were just as impressive with ball in hand, navigating the Fire around the court and combining for 17 assists.

“I don’t think it’s about outdoing it, it’s just about maintaining that and trying to repeat that performance,” Fire coach Claudia Brassard said.

“Trying to understand what were the triggers, why did we play so well, why did we shoot the ball so well.

“I think for us it was certainly the way we came out defensively which gave us that jump and then we just fed off that offensively.

“Something that this team’s always struggled with has been being up and down, but we need to be able to repeat it.

“I don’t think we’re playing as well as we can and I think that’s probably an opportunity or a good sign.”

The Fire host the Spirit at Townsville Stadium from 7pm on Saturday night.

Click here to pre-purchase tickets to the Fire and the Spirit.