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Northumbria Seek Magic Start To Season

Posted by Simon Rushworth

Northumbria Seek Magic Start To Season
Jack Preston Picked Up A First Period Injury

Team Northumbria face a winner-takes-all shoot-out in Manchester next weekend with a place in the National Trophy Final Fours stake.

Marc Steutel’s men moved to a 2-0 record in Pool Three on the back of a brilliant 80-66 win against Bradford Dragons.

And the Tynesiders can clinch a semi-final spot if they defeat joint-leaders Manchester on the Magic’s homecourt on Saturday.

“They are the best team in the league and won everything last season,” said Steutel. “But it’s great to get a crack at them so early.

“To be in with a shout of a semi-final place at this stage of the season is more than we could have hoped for.

“And my players will relish the chance to test themselves against a Manchester side that has recruited well in the summer and is one of the favourites to win the Trophy.”

Significantly TN boast a better points difference than the Magic after bagging big back-to-back Trophy wins against both Lancashire Spinners and the Dragons.

And Steutel’s ony concern is keeping his team’s feet on the ground after the perfect start to the 2016/17 campaign.

“We can’t get carried away after two games,” he added. “And we won’t.

“It’s still early on in the season and nobody really knows how good their team is right now.

“But from what I’ve seen so far I’m absolutely delighted with the way my guys are responding to what I’m asking of them in practice and the way they are buying into the programme.”

TN dominated the Dragons from start to finish - opening up a 12-point lead at the half and controlling the final 20 minutes with a combination of power and professionalism.

But an injury to vice-captain Jack Preston took the edge off an otherwise perfect afternoon and Steutel said: “It could have been prevented.

“I’m angry about the fact that Jack had his leg taken away from under him as he went for the three-pointer.

“There was no punishment from the officials and yet he has a six-inch scratch down his right ankle and he left the court with an ice pack on the injury.

“We’ll look to book him in with the physio as soon as possible on Monday morning and assess the situation from there.”

Preston’s team-mates responded with determination to the loss of one of the club’s most dependable on-court leaders.

And Steutel added: “The guys’ heads could easily have dropped when it became clear Jack wasn’t coming back.

“But professional is a great word for that performance. I look at the way a young lad like Sam Speight played against Bradford – he only played seconds last season but in his second game at this level he’s come on and made a real impact.

“That’s testimony to the way players are progressing from the second team and improving in every way.

“And then there was Tayo Oyefusi. He’s not the tallest or the strongest guy on court but he gets the job done and was outstanding again. He’s my kind of player and the kind of player every coach loves.”

TN take on the Magic from 6.30pm on Saturday. 

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