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Weekend to savour as Eagles seal first win in new arena; WBBL stars win derby but Trophy run looks over.

Byline: SIMON RUSHWORTH

NEWCASTLE EAGLES 72 DURHAM PALATINATES 68 NEWCASTLE Eagles made it two inaugural home wins in 24 hours as the WBBL side defeated regional rivals Durham Palatinates in the WBBL Trophy.

After the BBL team defeated Manchester Giants to break their Eagles Community Arena (ECA) duck with a win over Manchester Giants on Friday, Chris Bunten's side followed suit to make it a weekend to remember at the club's new home.

But it appears that victory on Saturday will not be enough to sustain the Eagles' WBBL Trophy ambitions.

Barring a bizarre sequence of results the Eagles look set to miss out on the knockout stages after struggling to impose themselves on North Group One.

But the team entertain Caledonia Pride on Sunday determined to bow out of the WBBL Trophy in style and build on Saturday's win.

Newcastle tasted victory at the third attempt in the competition after squeaking past the Palatinates in a derby thriller.

And after snapping a worrying four-game losing streak the Eagles must be confident of posting back-to-back wins for the first time since early January.

Two defeats in 10 days against the in-form Palatinates had piled the pressure on the hosts ahead of their latest (ECA) clash.

And yet another dogged display by in-form Durham saw an unpredictable North East derby go down to the wire. A 12-0 run in the last six minutes drew the visitors level and with just seconds remaining Palatinates' Hannah Ottewill-Soulsby converted a pair of free throws to force overtime.

The previous weekend has seen Durham come from behind to clinch victory at the death. And it looked like history would repeat itself after Newcastle threw away a doubledigit lead in the final quarter.

The two teams traded baskets during a tense overtime period before Bulgarian hotshot Kalina Axentieva, who led all scorers The Eagles out a first with 19 points, drained a huge three-pointer to put the hosts in the driving seat.

at the their since The Palatinates turned the ball over in a bid to bounce back and the Eagles closed out a first victory at the ECA and their first win since January 6. Coach Bunten, currently on recruitment duty overseas, will be delighted to see his team back on track after a tumultuous spell.

And the welcome return of Aussie Georgia Ohrdorf will not have gone unnoticed by Newcastle's playcaller - his close-season capture coming through almost nine minutes of action unscathed following a serious concussion before Christmas.

closed Axentieva was supported by a trademark double double of 14 points and 13 rebounds from Kara Bonenberger.

victory ECA and first win January 6 And if skipper Giulia Simioni is still struggling to find her scoring touch then the inspirational Swiss dished up 13 assists to her grateful team-mates. Newcastle entertain the Pride from 3pm on Sunday before returning to WBBL action the following week when Nottingham Wildcats head north.

The Eagles closed out a first victory at the ECA and their first win since January 6

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 11, 2019
Words:502
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