Women's Qualifying Final Preview
North Adelaide Rockets (15-3, 2nd) v Forestville Eagles (13-5, 3rd)
Saturday August 11, 6.30pm at Hillcrest
The North Adelaide Rockets will take part in their first final since 2009 when they take on the Forestville Eagles in the Qualifying Final at Hillcrest on Saturday.
Since the Rockets’ 64-69 loss to the Eagles in the 2009 First Semi Final, the Eagles have won three premierships. This game could be the one that orchestrates another change in the balance of power in this competition. Then again, it may just be another route on the Eagles’ road to another successful season.
The Rockets are the only side that the Eagles have not beaten this season. In Round 7, the Rockets were victorious 84-81 at Wayville. Lauren Mansfield had a great all-round game for the Rockets with 18 points, 6 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 assists. The Rockets had four other double-digit scorers, including Jamie-Lee Peris (17 points, 15 rebounds), Shannon McKay (14 points), Jo Hill (12 points, 7 rebounds) and Stana Zecevic (10 points).
For the Eagles, Olivia Thompson had 25 points and 21 rebounds prior to fouling out. Georgia Minear played the whole 45 minutes and scored 23 points to go with 4 rebounds and 4 assists, while Jess Fergus likewise never sat down, finishing with 21 points and 6 rebounds.
The Rockets racked up 13 steals in that encounter, so the Eagles need to be extra careful with their ball-handling and passing. The Rockets shot a lot better than the Eagles from the field, making 39 per cent of their shots compared to 34. The Eagles stayed close by controlling the boards (51-42) and scoring eight extra points from the foul-line, despite only two more free throw attempts.
In Round 16, the Rockets soared to a 75-49 win at Hillcrest. Mansfield was again on fire with 22 points and 5 assists. Peris (14 points, 14 rebounds) and Hill (12 points, 9 rebounds) stood up once more, while Kirsty Williams (11 points, 5 rebounds) was also prolific.
Thompson (19 points, 10 rebounds) and Carla Borrego (18 points, 12 rebounds) put their team on their shoulders, with the remainder of the Eagles’ line-up combining for just 12 points. There was only 3% in it in terms of shooting percentages, but the Eagles recorded 22 turnovers to the Rockets’ 10. A 14-8 foul count did not help the Eagles either.
Despite their underwhelming results against the Rockets, the Eagles have been in good form, winning eight of 10. The Rockets have been incredible since a 0-2 start, with Norwood the only team to have beaten them in their last 16 outings.
In Round 18, the Eagles were able to beat an under-strength Norwood 68-59. Thompson piled on 26 points and 16 rebounds, while Fergus had 17 points and 8 rebounds. Borrego left the arena after 10 minutes with 4 points, 3 rebounds and 3 fouls.
The Rockets were made to tough it out against bottom-placed South, getting home 62-55. Hill (21 points, 10 rebounds, 6 steals) and Peris (19 rebounds, 13 points) each recorded double-doubles.
Although records mean nothing when the ball is tipped off, it is very hard to back against a Rockets side that has been in league-best form. Although the game will likely be a lot closer than the last time they met, the Rockets should guarantee themselves of at least a Preliminary Final for the first time in four years.
By James Woite