The Bulls have picked up their second road win in as many nights with a 88-67 demolition of the Canterbury Rams, picking apart the hometown team thanks to a breakaway second quarter and the inspired play of their veterans Leon Henry and Corey Webster.
Webster continued his sharpshooting tonight, 24 hours after dissecting the Nelson Giants at the Trafalgar Centre; his 24 points and 8 assists tonight giving him 55 points in total over the weekend – not bad for his the veteran’s first two games of the season.
But the star of the show this evening was the Bull’s captain, 36-year-old Henry, in a turn-back-the-clock performance. His 20 points, 18 rebounds and 5 assists was impressive in itself, and his 5 blocks and 4 steals proving he can still play at an elite level defensively. Jayden Bezzant also chipped in with 13 points and 4 assists.
Meanwhile the Rams struggled all night with their outside shooting, hitting 5-20 from outside the arc (versus 16-35 for the Bulls); their bench only able to contribute 4 points as Canterbury clearly lacked firepower without Joe Cook-Green and Matur Maker available. Sunday Dech led the Rams with a quiet 15 points, with Ryan Taylor chipped in 13 and Max Darling and Taylor Britt with 13 apiece.
The first quarter was an even affair, with the Bulls taking a 19-17 lead thanks to a Kael Robinson corner triple in the final seconds. Webster continued where he left off against the Giants on Saturday night, racking up a quick eight points – with Britt attacking the rim without hesitation for his 6 points and Darling with 4 points and 6 rebounds.
The second quarter saw the Bulls extend their lead thanks to threes from Jayden Bezzant, Henry and Webster; the visitors holding the Rams scoreless in the first four minutes as part of an impressive 13-0 run. They would head into the changing rooms with a 44-35 lead thanks in part to their three point shooting; 9-19 from behind the arc (from five different plyers) compared to 2-10 for Canterbury. Auckland also with a 9-2 advantage in fast break points.
The floodgates opened up in the third, extending the lead to 70-48; the Bulls going on a 9-0 run to end the quarter and holding the Rams scoreless for the final 5 minutes. Canterbury led their own in the fourth but the damage was already done – the Bulls romping home with a 21-point win, their second victory this weekend – after losing their previous four games – coinciding with the return of Webster.
The win sees the Rams maintaining a tenuous hold on fifth place in the standings, with the surging Bulls knocking on the door of sixth place – currently held by the Taranaki Airs. Both teams play at home in Round 8, with the Bulls facing the surging Wellington Saints while the Rams take on giant-killers the Manawatu Jets.
SCORE: Rams 67, Bulls 88
Bulls: Henry 20 PTS & 18 REB & 5 ASS & 5 BLK & 4 STL | Webster 24 PTS & 8 ASS | Bezzant 13 PTS & 4 ASS | Davidson 8 PTS & 3 ASS
Rams: Dech 15 PTS & 3 ASS | Taylor 14 PTS & 4 REB | Darling 13 PTS & 9 REB | Britt 13 PTS & 5 ASS | Karena 8 PTS & 6 REB
Full box score HERE.
Stuff MVP Votes
Corey Webster (Bulls) - 10 votes
Leon Henry (Bulls) - 7 votes
Jayden Bezzant (Bulls) - 5 votes
Taylor Britt (Rams) - 3 votes
Sunday Dech (Rams) - 2 votes
Max Darling (Rams) - 2 votes
Franklin Bulls – 19 June vs. Wellington Saints
Canterbury – 18 June vs. Manawatu Jets