Development over results

NWBU. With just nine games to go in the 2014 season, Tall Timbers Smithton Saints coach Keith Bragg is taking a realistic approach to his sides’ remaining fixtures.

The Saints’ men currently sit at two wins and 10 losses at the foot of the NWBU ladder, and while it may not be the ideal position to be in, Bragg is optimistic about the prospects of his steadily developing squad.

“We’ve got a very young team,” he said. “I was under no illusions with the club from the start.

“The club’s got the right vision. The experience of juniors playing at a senior level will help for the future, and also with the inter-town roster.”

Despite totalling only 28 league points, four of the Saints’ season losses have been by a margin of less than 15 points, with the heaviest loss a 43-point round-one defeat to Somerset who sit just above them in the standings.

The return of Steve Poulter from injury in game eight provided a welcome attacking boost, while Bragg also noted the impact of import Tyrone Lee into the league, with the American top-scoring in many of the Saints’ matches despite receiving a large number of fouls on court.

With the premature departure of women’s coach David Kay earlier this season, Bragg has also taken the reigns of the women’s team for the remainder of the year; a challenge he was happy to accept.

“I put my hand up to try to help out for the rest of the year,” he said. “They’re in a very similar position to the men’s team in developing juniors.

“In the past they’ve had a lot of experience, but are now starting to bring through younger players.”

The Saints’ women mirror the men in terms of close results, with four of their 10 losses decided by less than 15 points including an overtime thriller against Burnie in game five.

The side is also currently seated in last place on the ladder, but with only six points separating first and sixth place, finals places remain up for grabs.

“It’s one of the closest I’ve seen in a long time,” Bragg said. “It’s a very close league; it’s just so unpredictable.”

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