NBL 2014/15 Round 8: Cairns bigs claim Reptile Rumble

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The Cairns Taipans have claimed the first Reptile Rumble of the season, defeating the Townsville Crocodiles 91-82 inside the Cairns Convention Centre on Sunday afternoon.

After a crushing defeat against the lowly Hawks on Friday, Townsville was hoping to get a win today against interstate rival Cairns. It would prove no easy task for the Crocodiles, as the Taipans are 4 and 1 at home. The first quarter provided lots of action as Townsville's opening points coming off a Gladness dunk. Whilst, Todd Blanchfield was able to get his rhythm early, neither team was able to separate itself and establish a lead.

Townsville's defence managed to limit Scottie Wilbekin in the second, forcing him into tough looks and turnovers. On the other end it was Blanchfield who was keeping Townsville afloat. His ability to attack the basket and to get to the line providing the only consistent threat for the away team. The score at the half showed that this was going to be a tight contest the whole way through. Both teams went to the locker room with Townsville up 48-44 and momentum on their side.

The third quarter was more of the same, as the up and down affair continued as neither team shot the ball well on the night. Townsville managed just 23% from 3, as no one could get things going from outside. Townsville continued to do a good job at limiting Cairns superstar point guard. However, it was the Taipan’s big men who made the difference in this one. Limiting Conklin and Gladness to 13 and 12 points respectively. Alex Loughton and Cameron Tragardh combined for 43 of the teams 91 points on the night. Both guys were dominant in their match ups, earning trips to the free throw line regularly and converting at a high clip.

The fourth quarter had both teams going point for point, looking like it was going to go down to the wire. It wasn’t until the last 2 minutes when the home side managed to separate themselves going on a 9-0 run. Townsville was forced to foul late and were unable to convert on the other end, as every 3 that was hoisted up, couldn’t find the bottom of the net. The final score had Cairns ending with a 91-82 victory however; this didn’t reflect how close this game really was.

Townsville will face Brock Motum and a struggling 36ers side next week. The Crocodiles will need Conklin to step up. The big man from the US has had difficulty with consistency over the last few weeks. Townsville will need him to return to his high scoring ways, if they are to have any chance of making the top 4 by seasons end.

Cairns should have no problem continuing their winning ways, as they will also face Adelaide on the second night of a back to back. Scottie should return to his standout form and the Taipans bigs should continue their solid play.

Cairns Taipans 91 (Tragardh 22, Loughton 21, Gliddon 13)

Townsville Crocodiles 82 (Blanchfield 24, Conklin 13, Gladness 12)