The Southland Sharks have suffered their biggest loss of the season with a 122-77 thumping by the Wellington Saints in Invercargill on Sunday evening.
The Southland Sharks suffered a demoralising 122-77 loss to arch-rival the Wellington Saints on Sunday in Invercargill as their 2019 NBL title defence hits a hurdle.
It was the Sharks’ second consecutive loss, having fallen 89-75 to the Canterbury Rams on Friday night, and sees the defending champions drop to fourth on the ladder.
Despite a close first quarter, the Sharks simply had no answer for the speed of the Saints all night with Wellington outscoring the home side 35-14 in the second and never looked back from there.
It was the second loss to the Saints this season for the Sharks, who are seeking revenge for their grand final loss against the Southland side last season.
The win keeps the Saints undefeated and sitting two games clear on top of the NBL ladder.
A dejected Sharks coach Judd Flavell said his team was completely outplayed by the “benchmark” of the competition.
“You look at the turnovers and they do a great job at speeding us up and taking us out of our structure, which we never really found our rhythm on the offensive end. We looked good when we were able to attack from the back court but in general we didn’t get through our offence how we wanted but you have to give credit to the Saints for that one.”
Flavell once again said defence was a key area in which his side needed to improve and that the Sharks were currently “two steps off” the Saints with their current form.
“We’ve got to find something in us. They shot the ball well from the three point line and that’s a reflection of some of the defences of what we’re doing. If it’s not that it’s walking in and getting a ton of lay ups. (It’s) a real good time for us to reflect and look at what we’re doing.”
After a 44-point game at home last weekend, Jarrad Weeks struggled to find the same form and was held to only 18 points.
Some late points from Dom Kelman-Poto brought him to 16 points for the evening and joined Weeks as the only Sharks player to reach double digits on the night.
Tall Black Jordan Ngatai top scored for the Saints with 24 points, which included five consecutive three pointers as the clock ticked down to half time.
The Saints shot a whopping 48% from outside the arc, and a dominant 53% overall.
The Sharks now have four days to regroup before their next match against the second placed Hawke’s Bay Hawks at ILT Stadium Southland on Thursday night.
This article was originally written for The Advocate. You can read the published version here