Soaring into play-off finals

The Springfield Honda Newcastle Eagles are still on course to end the season with a trophy after a hard-fought play-off semi-final win yesterday over the Sheffield Sharks.

The Springfield Honda Newcastle Eagles are still on course to end the season with a trophy after a hard-fought play-off semi-final win yesterday over the Sheffield Sharks.

The game at the Metro Radio Arena could have gone either way for a long time, but the Eagles' superior firepower and strength in depth told in the end.

And the win sets the Eagles up for a final showdown with the Scottish Rocks.

Newcastle had been given a pre-game boost when Team Northumbria, who are heavily linked with the Eagles, kicked off the weekend extravaganza with a superb 75-67 win over Taunton Tigers in the EBL Men's Division Two play-off final.

The Eagles were not about to let Northumbria grab all the local headlines though, and in front of their own fanatical supporters went about the job of qualifying for today's final, also to be held at the Arena, in businesslike fashion.

With veteran Tony "Dynamite" Dorsey looking in the mood, it was Newcastle who started the stronger, Dorsey netting nine of the Eagles' first 14 points as they went in front 14-11. However, the Sharks hit back and after 10 minutes had gone in front 22-18.

In the second quarter, Sharks established an eight-point lead before Newcastle's all-round team play and use of their deep bench brought them back in to the game.

Shawan Robinson made some crucial plays and with Olu Babalola and Darius Defoe strong inside, the Eagles went into the locker room leading 39-36.

The second half started cagily, but Newcastle just managed to pinch the third quarter by a point, thanks in no small way to shooting guard Jeremy Hyatt, who came to the party at just the right time.

With 10 minutes to go it was all to play for, but the Eagles were not to be denied, extending their lead bit by bit until they got a double-figure margin which they kept to the final buzzer.

So the steely-looking Eagles deservedly go through to their third successive BBL play-off final, taking with them the chance of retaining the trophy they've held for the last two years.

Today's final takes place this afternoon at the Metro Radio Arena and tickets are still available from the box office.

Newcastle Scorers - Tony Dorsey 20, Jeremy Hyatt 18, Shawan Robinson 15

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer