Hawks will hold their nerve against Tigers

Wollongong Hawks captain Oscar Forman believes discipline will be paramount in tomorrow's road clash with the unpredictable Melbourne Tigers.

The Hawks (6-1) climbed back into top spot on Thursday night without lifting a finger, courtesy of Perth's trouncing of New Zealand (7-2).

Struggling Melbourne suffered their fifth loss in seven games last week against Sydney, despite racing to a double-digit lead in the first quarter.

Tempers flared in the second half and Tigers centre Seth Scott was ejected for lashing out at Kings guard Ben Madgen.

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Melbourne's Chris Goulding and Lucas Walker also sailed close to the wind in separate incidents.

The Hawks know their opponents will be desperate tomorrow and are highly wary of being sucked into altercations.

"It seems everyone tries to be physical against us," Forman said.

"So far we've done a good job of just not worrying about it. If you don't take a backward step from it but you're not the initiators, you're usually fine. We're just playing our game and playing hard and letting the refs sort that out.

"We need to stay in our system and not get distracted. That's the biggest thing. The team that gets distracted by any physicality, they might also get caught up with arguing calls and fighting with refs or the other team.

"Usually we're pretty good as a team of staying clear of the refs. We've got one or two who want to talk every now and then, but we reel them in pretty quickly.

"The team you see huddling more together and staying focused, that's generally the team putting points on the board while the other team is distracted."

Defence has been Wollongong's anchor over the first quarter of the season, though they have established a reputation as one of the NBL's best when it comes to offensive execution, particularly when the pressure is on in the fourth period.

But while the Hawks have been patient and focused in crunch time, the Tigers appeared clueless in the second half against the Kings.

"They're not really sure how they go about their game, but they can get into a running game and cause a few problems, and they have individuals who can have great games and carry them forward," Forman said.

"It's not like there's one or two key players who'll do the bulk of the work. They've got a lot of guys who want to step up and be 'the man' for their team.

"We have to stay strong with our defence, and it's another test on the boards because they have guys who crash the boards hard.

"All the focus is on Sunday, but if we win this it gives us a whole lot of confidence moving forward, with another two road games coming up.

"We can take a lot of confidence from what we've done so far, but at no stage can we relax. We can't say 'we're happy, we're at the top of the table'. You have to work really hard to stay there."

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