Esh Group Eagles Newcastle are off and running as they showcased their new line-up for the 2014/15 season with an emphatic win in their opening pre-season game writes Jeff King.

All eyes were on new boys Ricky Taylor and Rahmon Fletcher and the Eagles latest backcourt duo did not disappoint as they both opened their Eagles accounts in fine style and look like becoming firm fans favourites over the coming months.

Shooting guard Taylor led the team and the game in scoring whilst point guard Fletcher also hit double figures as well as looking smooth running the offence. There was also a strong supporting role from ‘bigs’ Darius Defoe and Scott Martin who were also double-digit scorers.

The return of Andy Thomson to a Newcastle vest also went well and he inspired his brother Stuart to a double figure haul whilst backup guards Drew Lasker and Eddie Matthew also played important minutes.

And we haven’t even mentioned the veterans Charles Smith and Fab Flournoy who eased their way back in to the game and helped their team-mates hit their straps.

It was a one-sided game from the get-go with The Eagles starting five of Fletcher, taylor, Martin, Andy Thomson and Defoe setting the defensive platform to spark the offensive explosion throughout all four quarters which Newcastle took comfortably.

Head Coach Fab Flournoy was a happy man at the end of the game although acknowledging there are things to work on and more to come.

“As a training exercise it was great. I loved our hustle, our energy and intensity and I loved the way the guys looked together from the start. Obviously we’re going to have tougher tasks ahead but as a first game together, I’ll take that.”

“With only one week’s practice I have to be pleased with what I saw and the guys put in. They showed me that they are willing to learn, acknowledge their mistakes and know they have to use this as the starting block to build going forward.”

Eagles will now take on Leeds Force in the second game of the Tournament tonight with the winners becoming The North East Invitational Champions for 2014 as The Force looked impressive in the first game of the night.

A strong Leeds line-up who make their BBL bow this season beat a depleted Durham Wildcats who are still awaiting players to arrive 73 – 59 in the evening’s first game. For Leeds point guard Josh McCann had 22 points whilst big man Zak Wells had 21.

So, The Eagles will face a sterner test of their credentials and Leeds will find out what The BBL is all about as the two sides clash in what should be an entertaining and closer game.

NEWCASTLE : Ricky Taylor 23, Darius Defoe 18, Rahmon Fletcher 13