Bolts bring it all back home for state finals showdown

TAMWORTH Thunderbolts had an unexpected win off the Waratah State League court this week.

Thunderbolt import Tevin Hurd stretches to the basket for this opportunity as young forward Rhys Chillingworth (left) also goes for the rebound in 
Sunday's win over Coffs Harbour Suns. Photo: Barry Smith 100814BSE05

Thunderbolt import Tevin Hurd stretches to the basket for this opportunity as young forward Rhys Chillingworth (left) also goes for the rebound in Sunday's win over Coffs Harbour Suns. Photo: Barry Smith 100814BSE05

While the Thunderbolts men’s side guaranteed a WSL finals berth with their double header wins over central Coast Waves and Coffs Harbour Suns on the Tamworth Sports Dome show court, they also earned the John Ireland-coached side a home final against Hawkesbury Jets Orange in the Sports Dome this Saturday night.

Saturday night’s win over the Waves earned the side a WSL finals berth and Sunday’s victory confirmed a home final.

“It was very close,” a flu-ridden John Ireland told The Leader this week.

“We finished second in our SL country pool and that matched us up with a cross-over game against the fourth side in the metro pool (Hawkesbury Jets Orange). 

“They finished with a 61 per cent winning percentage and we had a 66 per cent winning percentage and that won us the home court.

“That’s going to be a huge advantage for us. But it’s also now sudden death for us. Lose and your out, win and we progress.”

The news wasn’t as good for the Greg Irwin-coached Thunderbolt women.

While they have two final games in Newcastle this weekend they have missed out on a finals berth.

Their two losses to Newcastle Hunters and Coffs Harbour Suns at home on the weekend ended their slim chances.

Season-ending injuries to some key players didn’t help Irwin as well as a long and drawn out schedule.

His side went for two- or three-week periods without games, playing a clump of games early but then a large number away. Some games Irwin had just five players to call on.

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