IT’S hard to go past the Kings as Illawarra’s fiercest nemesis, but the Hawks’ rivalry with Adelaide is as compelling as any in the NBL according to Rob Beveridge.
The two sides will write a fourth chapter in their 2019 tale when they meet at The Sandpit on Thursday, the Hawks boasting a 2-1 advantage after their one-point win in Adelaide a month ago.
It’s continued a rivalry that heated up when the two sides met in the semi-finals two seasons ago, the Hawks claiming the series 2-1 and reaching the grand final.
Much of it centred on Jerome Randle – now with Sydney and ironically a good friend of Beveridge. Other key personnel have moved on but the Hawks coach says the fans have long memories.
“People always talk about Sydney-Illawarra being the biggest rivalry of all but I think the [recent] history of us and Adelaide is in everyone’s memory,” Beveridge said.
“The physicality, their crowd getting after us, our crowd getting after them. Fans don’t forget. They come here to silence our crowd we go over there to silence theirs.
“You know it’s always going to be really heated and it’s just continued.”
Their last meeting in Wollongong saw three ejections, while their last clash in Adelaide came down to the final second.
It’s made games between the sides must-watch and Beveridge expects Thursday to no different.
“There’s some sort of drama in every game and I expect it’ll be the same this week,” Beveridge said.
“Guys like [Brendan] Teys, [Anthony] Drmic, [Nathan] Sobey, they try and dominate you physically.
“They have beaten us before but we draw a line in the sand and say they won’t kick sand in our face.
“We won’t back down from anybody and I know they’ll have the same mentality.”
The feeling’s palpable enough that it’s not hard, even for new players, to feel the fire according to Hawks import Brian Conklin.
“There has as been a rivalry probably since Jerome was there,” Conklin said.
“It’s pretty cool that, even though both teams have lost come core players from those rivalries, it’s come into its own this year.
“There was a span where we seemed to play them every round and then suddenly it just stopped.
“I feel like we’ve grown as a team since we played them last and I’ve watched a couple of their games and they’ve gotten better.
“It’ll be interesting to see what comes of it for this fourth game.”