Newcastle Eagles Wheelchair Team played host to Essex Outlaws in their first home game of the GBWBA Super League season. This was the first ever meeting between the two teams, and was expected to be a competitive encounter. Travelling with a slimmed down squad of six, Outlaws were looking to bounce back from defeat in their previous match away to Raiders in London.
In the opening exchanges, defence dominated and the game was into the 5th minute before Alan Mansell opened the scoring for Outlaws. In reply Paul McGinty knocked down an almost identical baseline effort for Eagles. Outlaws then found a bit of form and opened up a 5 point lead. Eagles needed to score and just as last week, Stewart Pimblett his account with a 3-point attempt that never looked like missing. Feeling confident he quickly added a further four points to his and Eagles’ total so that by the end of the Quarter, Eagles trailed narrowly by 2.
In the 2nd Quarter, both teams matched each other basket for basket. Each team fielded player coaches, Lee Fawcett for Eagles and Alan Mansell for Outlaws and they.led by example heading their teams scoring during the quarter. 10 points from Alan Mansell helped take Outlaws into a 6 point lead by half-time.
A change of tactics designed to reduce the offensive threat from Mansell helped bring Eagles back into the match. Urged on by an enthusiastic and vocal home support, Eagles defence forced Outlaws to rundown their shot-clock on successive offences. Scores from Michael Lomax, who was playing with a broken finger sustained during the morning session, and then Malcolm Hollinshead narrowed an 8 point deficit to 4 which then became 3, when Stewart Pimblett scored from the line. Outlaws took a time-out to re-organise as this was very much a live game. In the remaining four minutes of the quarter Outlaws went on a scoring spree, knocking down 6 baskets for 12 points and a 13 point lead.
The final quarter was all about Outlaws’ Guard, Hadj Lahmar. He scored 6 baskets for 12 points which when added to his 4 points in the last two minutes of the previous quarter meant 16 points in 12 minutes. Eagles’ defensive organisation had held Lahmar to 6 points through most of the game but as their offense went cold, Lahmar got hot. In the last few minutes Outlaws seemed to score on each of their offences as Eagles tried in vain to kick-start their own offence. The last basket of the game was scored by Michael Lomax but it was not enough as Eagles lost 34 – 59.
Eagles – S. Pimblett, 8: L. Fawcett, 8; M. Lomax, 6
Outlaws – H. Lahmar, 22; A. Mansell, 17; L Welch, 7