The Townsville Crocodiles have sent the Cairns Taipans into the off-season with a demoralising 17 point loss at the Townsville Entertainment Centre.
After being knocked out of finals contention last week, the Taipans looked for all money like they were playing to just get through the game, regardless of the result and end their season.
The Crocodiles meanwhile, needing to win by seven to take the season series over the Taipans, and with plenty of contracts on the line for next season put in a determined performance, one of their best for the season.
After a fast start saw them take a nine point lead in the first few minutes of the contest, Jordair Jett making a brilliant start to proceedings, they managed to hold the lead throughout most of the first quarter.
In the back end of the first quarter though, Mark Worthington and Alex Loughton got their shooting going to bring the Taipans back to within five points at the first break.
It wasn’t all the Taipans doing though, as the Crocodiles struggled with their turnovers and shooting, allowing the Taipans a lot of tree possessions.
The second quarter started off much the same way that the first quarter ended, with the Taipans closing the gap, and at one point taking the lead. Foul trouble got to the Crocodiles throughout the early second quarter and Worthington continued to shoot with accuracy, joined by Cameron Gliddon.
From there, the Crocodiles regained the lead, and it would be the last time they trailed in the match.
Nicholas Kay and Mitchell Young, along with Clint Steindl were their three best players, although didn’t really shine through until the second half got under way where they kicked away.
Mirko Djeric and Leon Henry also came up with some massive shots, while Omar Samhan rebounded strongly inside, almost grabbing a double-double.
The Taipans offence became stagnant, and their defence not much better as the Crocodiles raced away through the third quarter and never looked back.
In the end, a commanding win for the Crocodiles, giving them the season series and continuing to set them up well for next season.
Townsville Crocodiles 85
Cairns Taipans 68
With finals beyond them, and only pride on the line, the Townsville Crocodiles host the Cairns Taipans in the final Reptile Rumble of the season. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage of the match from 7:15pm (AEDT).
The Crocodiles have won the hearts of fans all over the league this season, with some massive performances.
The youthful side has fought hard, managing to win nine of their 27 games played to date, leaving them about five games back from making the finals.
The Crocs have beaten both of the top two teams – the Perth Wildcats and Melbourne United – in a story of hard work, and fighting all the way.
Despite all that, the Crocodiles have lost five of their last six during a frustrating back-end of the season. Their last outing was a seven-point away loss to the Illawarra Hawks in over time.
The Taipans meanwhile, have performed well below expectations, but managed to drag themselves back to be in finals contention with just a week of the season to go.
They took on the Adelaide 36ers last week needing to win by 12 to stay in with a shot at the finals, but ended up only winning by six, ending their postseason hopes.
Markel Starks, Cameron Gliddon, Mitch Norton and Jordair Jett – the four guards – hold the key to this game. All can shoot, but the way they assist and set up their teammates is going to have the defining influence.
Neither team has much to play for, and that could bring out the worst in them. In saying that, the Crocodiles are really trying to build for next year, expect them to get the job done.
Crocodiles by 7.
Be sure to join The Roar for live scores and coverage of the final Reptile Rumble for the season from 7:15pm (AEDT) and don’t forget to comment.
Follow Scott on Twitter @sk_pryde