|April 15, 2023||7:30 pm||WBBL Championship||2022-23|
Newcastle must become a more productive offensive machine if the Eagles are to make their mark on this season’s WBBL playoffs.
That’s the verdict of head coach Noelia Cacheiro as the women in black chase a big win double this weekend.
Newcastle host Cardiff Met Archers tonight before the short trip to derby rivals Durham Palatinates tomorrow.
And Cacheiro wants the seventh-placed Eagles to add the finishing touch to their fast-improving transition offence.
“We have to start looking at our baseline plays because we need those points to come from somewhere,” she explained.
“We can get stuck offensively but that’s a given for this team. We have to accept that and find that bail-out play that gets us moving again.
“When we move the ball we look amazing. If you cut clips from the last two months we look great when we’re moving the ball.
“We stepped it up in training during the last few weeks and we’re still learning and growing.
“That’s fine but when it comes to a game we have to come up with a 40-minute performance.
“We played scared on offence against London last Sunday but we have to be bold this weekend.”
Newcastle face the two teams immediately below them during the next 48 hours knowing maximum points would pile the pressure on sixth-placed Essex.
Tonight’s Vertu Motors Arena clash against Cardiff is the first of two meetings in eight days against the Archers.
And tomorrow’s trip south of the Tyne provides the Eagles with an opportunity to do the league double over Durham.
“The next three games are must-wins for us if we want to be in a comfortable position in the playoffs,” added Cacheiro.
“If we win all the games we have left then we actually have a chance of avoiding the top two teams and that’s a huge incentive.
“Whether we can do that is another matter but that’s the target. We must beat Cardiff at home and we must try to beat them comprehensively ahead of next weekend.
“The margin of victory could be crucial in terms of where we finish in the regular season.”
Lee Davie’s Palatinates will be a tough nut to crack on their homecourt after slipping to a narrow defeat on Tyneside earlier this month.
And a cautious Cacheiro added: “Considering how close the Durham game was at our place we have to beat them away.
“The Palatinates are always tricky and I’m never comfortable playing against them.
“They’re a team that seems to play without rules and without any obvious organisation and that’s very difficult to counter as an opponent.
“They create chaos at both ends of the court and they rely on pure talent so they’re a very dangerous team. They benefit from effective bursts of positive energy and that’s what we need to counter.”
Both Katie Nolan and Zoe Willis will look to step up their match fitness after returning to the fray at the Copper Box Arena last weekend.
And Millie Oates is the only doubt for a Newcastle side coming together at the perfect time.
“Katie and Zoe are nowhere near game ready and nowhere near game speed in terms of what we need them to do,” added Cacheiro.
“But they’ll get there. Katie’s pressing has been there all season and she’s huge for us. That approach opens up new things.
“We’ve adapted a style of play without her where we can run the ball a bit quicker and so suddenly we have some options heading into the business end of the season.
“We just need to find the balance between pushing and coming up against a more energetic defence. Hopefully we’ve got the best of both worlds and we can put the right plays together at the right time.”
Tonight’s WBBL Championship clash tips off at 7.30pm with tickets available via the box office.