The Sinclair McDonald’s Rockingham Flames women’s team has moved into pole position in the NBL1 West with their fifth successive win in the competition, a 71-52 triumph over the Cockburn Cougars last Saturday night, sending them to the top of the competition table.

The season may only be seven rounds old, but the Flames find themselves in favourable early-season form with a 5-1 win/loss record and even being without star wing Alex Ciabattoni for the Cougars’ visit to the Hot House couldn’t dampen their hot form.

Ciabattoni’s absence didn’t seem to deter her teammates as they restricted their opponents just 23 first half points, and despite the Cougars notching the first four points of the contest that was as good as it got for the visitors as the Flames went on a 20-10 scoring run to lead by six at the first break.

The Flames were their own worst enemy in the second quarter as both sides found points hard to come by, as a solid defensive effort saw them restrict the Cougars to just 12 shots for the quarter but their own profligacy on offence – making just four of their 22 shots – saw them go in at half time with just a seven-point advantage.

A 9-2 run to the visitors early in the third locked the scores at 32-all, and the Flames were soon behind on the scoreboard for the first time since the opening exchanges when Nicole Roberts hit a three-point shot inside the final two minutes, but they rallied to recompose themselves, led by the excellent Tayah Burrows, and went into the final quarter ahead by two.

The visitor’s resistance was finally broken by the halfway stage of the final quarter as the Flames jumped out to their first double digit lead of the game and piled on a further 14 points to four in the dying minutes to run out 19-point victors.

Chris Boag enjoyed her best outing for the season to date, leading all scorers with 25 while also pulling down 14 rebounds; Burrows once again stood out with 24 points and 7 assists, and Zoe Richards contributed well with 9 points and 8 rebounds.

Atem Bior showed glimpses of his promising ability in the Flames’ 106-85 win. Photo: Sports Imagery Australia

The Flames men also continued on their own winning ways, running out 106-85 victors over their Cockburn counterparts behind a breakout performance from interstate recruit Atem Bior.

Bior has struggled for consistency early in his Flames career after lacking fitness and form following two weeks spent in quarantine before the start of the season, but he finally showed glimpses of his prowess here with 21 points and 7 rebounds in an impressive effort at both ends of the floor.

Justin Beard also stepped up with a game-high 23 points, while skipper Ryan Godfrey (12 points), Greg Hire (12 points and 8 rebounds) and Cirkook Riak (11 points) contributed well as the Flames controlled the game from start to finish.

The win sees the men move to five wins alongside Perry Lakes, Warwick and Willetton, but they remain in third place on the table having lost two games opposed to that trio’s one loss apiece.

The Flames host the Mandurah Magic at Mike Barnett Sports Complex this Friday night in a makeup game for the pair’s postponed round 2 clash because of Perth’s Covid-19 scare. Tip-off is from 6.30pm in the women’s and 8.30pm in the men.