Launceston Tornadoes chasing third straight SEABL win at home

SETTLING IN: Launceston Tornadoes recruit Lauren Nicholson is making her mark for the team after joining this season from the Sydney Flames.
SETTLING IN: Launceston Tornadoes recruit Lauren Nicholson is making her mark for the team after joining this season from the Sydney Flames.

The Launceston Tornadoes will be aiming for three wins in a row when they host Sandringham in their round 4 SEABL encounter at Elphin Stadium on Saturday.

After a break over Easter, coach Ben Rush said his side was rested and had developed some confidence following two home game wins which sees them equal third on the Southern conference ladder with a 2-1 record.

Sandringham won their season opener against Canberra in the Eastern conference but have dropped their last three games to sit seventh at 1-4.

However, Rush was wary of their opposition saying the Sabres should have their two US imports available for the first time in WNBL player Brittany Smart and former Kilsyth star Jasmine Gill making them a much stronger team.

“The key for this game is to come in with a fair bit of respect for the opposition because they’ve had a tough start to the season losing their last three by 30-plus points and looking at that you would think we were a shew in for a win but they have two Americans coming in,” he said. “Our group was able to enjoy a small break over Easter and recharge their batteries.

“We have set ourselves some goals as a team over the coming weeks and we will welcome back some key players this week with Olivia Chugg back from a small injury, Jayde Brazendale returning from the national under-18 championships and Ali Partridge coming in for her first game of the season after recovering from a bad back injury.

“We are now starting to settle into our routine with a full contingent at training each week and our depth is starting to shine through.”

Rush said he was happy with where the team was situated recovering from an opening round defeat to Hobart with wins over Frankston and Melbourne.

“At 2 and 1 now I think we are in a really good spot. We are a new team and we’ve had a lot of changes and challenges with Mikaela (Ruef) leaving for a WNBA opportunity and I can’t fault them with those two home wins against good opponents.

“I think the whole team feels positive and know that we are going to continue to grow – we haven’t played our best basketball and to be 2-1 is a positive sign.

“If you look at the scores it is easy to narrow them down to some great stats from Tayla (Roberts) and Lauren (Mansfield) and they are playing really well and are a key to what we’re doing. But we’ve also had other players step up and play a role or make timely shots so it is a real team effort and we’ve had a lot of contributions which is another positive.”

The Tornadoes are hoping for another strong home crowd to cheer them on with tip-off at 7.30pm.