Chris Bunten is convinced Newcastle Eagles’ WBBL Trophy trip to derby rivals Durham Palatinates represents the perfect opportunity to return to winning ways.

The former Team Northumbria playcaller watched in horror as Durham hijacked his side’s Eagles Community Arena debut last month to claim a convincing away win.

But Bunten revealed that the club’s coaching staff and players have taken collective responsibility for an alarming slump in form – and vowed to bounce back stronger.

“We hold ourselves accountable as a group for the way things have gone in the last few weeks,” said the England assistant coach.

“We realise that communication has been poor between the bench and players and also within the team on court.

“That has to improve if we’re to move forward.

“We’ve looked at the video footage from the Durham fixture and we know what we have to do in order to win this weekend.

“If we can score 70 points at their place then I’m confident we can win. But at the same time we need to restrict the Palatinates’ offence.”

Newcastle tipped off 2019 with two impressive wins but three defeats on the bounce have forced Bunten and his coaching staff to go back to basics.

Losing at Caledonia Pride last weekend put the Eagles on the back foot in the Trophy’s North 1 group.

But a Newcastle victory on Durham’s Stockton floor this afternoon [Saturday] will put a different perspective on the three-team qualifying group.

“We’ve had a very positive week of practice and we simply need to ensure we don’t make the same mistakes that have proved so costly,” added Bunten.

“There are a few niggles but I imagine every team is in the same boat in that respect at this stage of the season.

“It’s nothing we can’t manage and our only long-term concern is Georgia [Ohrdorf].”
Ohrdorf suffered a serious concussion before Christmas and is still experiencing painful headaches.

“Her safety is paramount,” added Bunten. “There’s no doubt we’re a better team when Georgia is around but it is what it is.

“We have to be ever so careful with an injury like this. It’s something we’re monitoring day to day but I don’t have a return date for Georgia just yet.”

This afternoon’s clash tips off at 3pm with the return fixture scheduled for the ECA next Saturday.