Bendigo Spirit feeling the heat in Townsville

The league-leading Bendigo Bank Spirit must defy an unconvincing record at Townsville and Logan to continue its stellar WNBL season this weekend.

Tonight, the Spirit (10-1) is aiming to douse the Fire at Townsville for the first time since its inaugural 2007-08 season.

Bendigo has lost its other five matches on the Fire’s home court, although its record at Logan – who the Spirit plays Sunday afternoon – is two victories from four attempts.

“It seems to be for one reason or another going to Queensland has been a bit of a bogey for us. We’ve struggled on this trip a number of times,” Spirit coach Bernie Harrower said.

“Even the times we’ve won it’s been really close and it hasn’t mattered where they’ve been on the ladder. 

“I’d like to think we’re in a lot better form this time than what we have been in the past, last year it was the first round of the year and we certainly were nowhere near where we’re at at the moment.”

The Spirit is on top of the table at the halfway point of the season, while Townsville is fifth.

However, the Fire has won three of its past four and will be gunning for the high-flying Spirit, which has played seven of 11 matches on the road.

“We’re on the end of a long run of tough games and the group are starting to get fatigued,” Harrower said.

“It’s been a hard slog for us, after this weekend nine games of our 14 will have been on the road. 

“The Christmas break certainly can’t come at a better time for us, hopefully we don’t go on Christmas break early.

The Spirit hasn’t faced either Townsville or Logan Thunder so far this season.

The Fire is a similar team to last season, while the seventh-placed Thunder is a mostly new-look outfit.

“They’ve had a change of coach, a change of personnel and certainly they’re a lot different now to what they were this time last year. They had a fairly settled, well-balanced line-up,” Harrower said.

“I’m hopeful height will be the key for us. Gabe’s (Richards) in good form and most of our taller girls are in form.”

Bendigo can equal its best winning streak of seven matches and continue its perfect away run with two wins.

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