Newcastle Eagles 84 (20, 42, 63) (Smith 23, Jackson 17, Stewart 16)
Sheffield Sharks 74 (18,31,54) (Cook 29, Lawson 13, Patton 11)
The sides were basket for basket in the first quarter of this eagerly anticipated encounter, as the Sharks led 16-13, before a 7-2 run from the Eagles took the score to 18-20 to close out the opening period. Although the Sharks were carrying injuries to Todd Cauthorn, Matt Gorman, Ryan Patton and Mike Cook, the match looked as if it may go down to the wire, as Cook looked good for the Sharks once again, and Lynard Stewart was on fire for the Eagles.
The second period saw several lead changes, as the Sharks raced to a 27-22 lead, only for the Eagles to fly back at them to take it 27-29 and then 31-29. The Tyneside franchise then scored the rest of the points that quarter in a run which took them to a commanding 31-42 lead at half time.
The third period saw the Eagles extend their lead to 55-40, but the Sharks managed to chip away to bring it back to 46-57, only for the Eagles to bag four more points to stretch the lead to 46-61 in their favour. This was the most the Eagles led for in this quarter, as the Sharks went on an 8-2 charge to get themselves to within 10 points of their opponents, at 54-63 at the end of the third. The final stanza then saw a late 12-3 run which sealed the game for the visitors. They were led by a dominant performance from Charles Smith with 23 points, but Mike Cook continued to dominate in this league, as he racked up 29 points to lead all scorers in the game.
Sharks player-coach Atiba Lyons was disappointed with the result, but feels that his side can definitely take some positives from the game. He said: ‘I was disappointed with tonight’s result, but what impressed me was that the guys kept their heads down and kept fighting. They didn’t give up, and fought back well, which is a good sign.’