The Integra Ballarat Rush are looking to deliver payback as they host the Launceston Tornadoes this Sunday afternoon at the MARS® MINERDOME. The Rush travelled to Tasmania to experience a heartbreaking one-point loss to the Tornadoes in Round 7, and are looking forward to the opportunity to repay the favour.
In their first meeting, the Rush struggled to find an answer for Launceston’s Nadeen Payne, who had an outstanding game of 33 points and 17 rebounds—eventually going on to win Player of the Week for the round. Payne, out with a season-ending ACL injury, will not be a worry for the Rush this weekend, however the Tornadoes boast an abundance of talent to make up for her absence.
Lauren Mansfield and Alex Wilson lead the way for the Torns, and the recent addition of Opals star Abby Bishop has strengthened their roster immensely. Mansfield has been strong for the Tornadoes this season, averaging 16.2 points and 2 assists a game. Due to foul trouble, Mansfield was relatively quiet in the first matchup with the Rush, but will be expected to have a big impact on Sunday’s game.
Support for Mansfield comes from post players Wilson and Bishop. Wilson has fought hard in the paint all season to average 15.5 points and 6.7 rebounds each game, not to mention a strong game against the Rush that saw her play the entire game to record 16 points and eight rebounds. Bishop has also demonstrated her dominance in the post, as with only six games with the Tornadoes under her belt she has fit into the rotation seamlessly, averaging a double-double of 17.2 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. Launceston will be coming off of a Round 15 thumping at the hands of the Geelong Supercats and will be looking to returning to the winner’s circle with a win at Ballarat.
The Rush will be more than eager to end their three-game losing streak, and will be heavily-motivated by their goal of handing the Tornadoes a bit of payback. The absence of Steph Cumming in last weekend’s contest against the Brisbane Lady Spartans forced the Rush players to have to step up, and although Cumming will be in action against the Torns, it is important that everyone continues to step up if a win is in the cards for the Rush this Sunday.
Averaging 20.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, and four assists a game, Cumming has been outstanding for the Rush all season, and was particularly outstanding in the first matchup against the Tornadoes, where she played all 40 minutes to rack up 32 points, six rebounds, and four assists. With Player of the Week and, more recently, Player of the Month accolades under her belt, Cumming is an integral part to Ballarat’s success,and will be called upon to have a similar performance Sunday afternoon.
Captain Kristy Rinaldi, import Nya Mason, and young gun Abbey Wehrung have produced solid numbers all season; Rinaldi and Mason both averaging 11 points (Rinaldi with 5.8 rebounds a game, Mason with 7.2), and Wehrung at 13 points and two assists per game. Rinaldi and Mason had a strong showing at Launceston, scoring 14 and 17 points, respectively, while Wehrung was sidelined for a large portion of the game due to foul trouble. Rinaldi and Mason will have to produce similar numbers, along with the usual efficiency from Wehrung, in order to get over the line against the Tornadoes.
A win for the Rush can keep their hopes for a finals appearance alive, whereas a Tornadoes’ win can also help their push for playoffs, setting the stage for a thrilling match-up this weekend as both teams have a lot at stake. Tip-off for the Rush is at 12pm at the MARS® MINERDOME, followed by the GMHBA Ballarat Miners taking on the Northwest Tasmania Thunder from 2pm.