ESSEX Rebels return to Women's British Basketball League action this weekend, looking to chalk up their first win of the season.

They take the floor against Newcastle at the Essex Sports Arena on Sunday, following defeats against joint-second placed Manchester Mystics and the Sheffield Hatters, last weekend.

The Rebels pushed the Manchester Mystics all the way in front of a great crowd at the Essex Sports Arena, eventually losing 87-84.

Rebels captain Cat Lutz said: “To go from losing to a team by 40 a month ago, to coming within three points in overtime is tremendous. "The team has been working so hard these last few weeks.

"The intensity is up, the competitiveness is at an all-time high, and players are gaining confidence because they are seeing the improvements.

"It was a great game and we can’t thank the crowd enough for coming out and supporting us.

"The energy that they gave us throughout the game was incredible.”

Coach Tom Sadler also praised his side's positive performance, after they fell just short of victory.

He said: “The team has been battling these past couple of weeks and that translated to (this) game.

"They were competitive, they were aggressive, and they played with intensity for a full 40-minutes.

"We know that we have a long way to go and no one thought that after four weeks of practice that we were going to suddenly win every game. "But what we have been able to prove to ourselves and hopefully the rest of the league, is that our hard work is starting to pay off and when we do what we are capable of doing, we can compete with the teams in the league.

"I thought the energy that we had on defence and from the crowd was incredible.

"When we can lock in and disrupt opposing teams offensive flow we can put ourselves in a position to compete and win."

Rebels' top performers were Jessy Ward, who poured in 34 points, Angel Waithe, who notched another double-double with 21 points and 17 rebounds and Cat Lutz, who added 13 points and seven rebounds.

A quick turnaround saw the Rebels on the road the following day, as they travelled up to Sheffield to take on the Hatters.

The hosts came out on fire, as they shot 52 per cent from the floor to claim a 104-57 victory.

The Rebels had a tough day all around, shooting only 34 per cent from the floor and committing 24 turnovers.

A very tough Hatters defence kept leading scorers Jessy Ward and Angel Waithe to eight and seven points on the day.

Leading scorer for the Rebels was Cat Lutz, with 19 points.

Sadler said: "The team came out flat and after a tough game (the previous day), the girls looked physically and emotionally drained.

"But I told them that that wasn't an excuse at this level.

"We need to find consistency for 40 minutes. When we do, we have performances like we did against Manchester, when we don't we have these types of games that are losses by large margins.

"While this game was a bit of a gut punch, we still know that we are working hard and getting better every day."