Table topping Derby blazed a trail at Loddon Valley as they showed their immense strength in depth from tip to end game stifling Rockets offence whilst controlling the boards and scoring majestically. After captain Lewis Champion hit a treble to see Rockets lead, Derby hit four quick trebles themselves to take control of the tie opening up a 13-15 gap which they maintained for virtually all the game and finishing the final period with a powerful display to move into the Kitking Final.
Again the Aussie point guard Mitch Clarke led the way for Rockets but trailing by 20-34 at the end of the first quarter was a double digit gap he and the team just couldn’t breach even though they
fought tirelessly in the second , just losing out 20-22 and winning the third 24-20 . Derby weren’t missing any shots whilst Rockets struggled to score against a sound defence especially around the boards where the visitors dominated both offensively, often scoring from a rebound , and defensively as they stopped Rockets around the ring. Zack Powell did his best to raise the hosts hopes stroking a brace of trebles early in the game which Elijah Maynard copied and good defensive play at the start of the third quarter caused Derby into a 24 second violation. When Jermiah Jenkins hit a treble and Reis Pinnock made a 3 point play, the packed arena at Loddon Valley raised their voices to a crescendo giving Rockets much impetus and hope though a blaze of trebles drained down from Derby to quench the moment.
None the less for a much younger and newer team , Rockets gave a good account of themselves but found the experienced league leaders on the very best of form and they deserved the win.
Mitch Clarke again headed Rockets list of top scorers with 18 points ably assisted by Elijah Maynard and Zack Powell who each hit 14 but the strength in depth of the Trailblazers saw Rob Marsden dominate the boards and hit 21 pts with Corey Johnson stroking 17 pts and Malcolm Smith hitting 16 as they head to the March final.