PHOTO: VALENTINE SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Match of the Round
Wallsend v Warners Bay
Sunday, May 7, 2.15pm
At The Gardens
Last start: Wallsend beat Thornton 8-1 last night; Warners Bay beat Adamstown 5-2 on Saturday.
Last time they met: Warners Bay won 5-3 in round 2.
Position on ladder: Wallsend fourth, five points; Warners Bay second, 18 points.
Squad news: Sass Seaborn returns for Warners Bay after missing matches through illness and unavailability while Sophie Stapleford remains still in doubt with a quadriceps injury. Wallsend’s line-up depends on how they back up after last night’s game but the only expected change is the absence of striker Kally Lewis through unavailability.
What the coaches say: Warners Bay player-coach Cassidy Davis has warned her side against complacency as they prepare to take on the Red Devils.
“Last time they were beating us 3-1 at half-time and we came out and played much better in the second half and ended up winning 5-3,” Davis said.
“I think we’ve been behind in all but one game this season, so the focus is going to be about having intensity from the start because it’s not good to get comfortable with being able to chase the game.
“I don’t think we’ve played anywhere near as good as we can with the players we’ve got.”
Wallsend produced their first win of the season in beating Thornton 8-1 last night and assistant coach Strat Kapalos said the win would be a confidence boost ahead of their clash with the defending champions.
“We have needed to be more clinical in front of goals, and tonight we were,” Kapalos said last night.
“This weekend is going to be a tough match and we’re going to again need to be clinical and finish our chances.”
Bottom line: Both sides have quality across the park but until last night Wallsend had been able to fulfil their potential. Finishing has cost them in many games this season and they have also struggled with consistency as several washouts have prevented them from developing any momentum. Last time they met it was a game of two halves with Warners Bay emerging on top. Expect this one to be an arm wrestle and it could also go either way.
Adamstown v Merewether
Sunday, May 7, 2.15pm
At Adamstown Oval
Last start: Adamstown lost 5-2 to Warners Bay on Saturday; Merewether beat South Wallsend 5-2 on Sunday.
Last time they met: Merewether won 6-0 on April 26.
Position on ladder: Merewether first, 21 points; Adamstown fifth, five points.
Squad news: Adamstown coach Ben Herron resigned on Monday and Rosebud 18s coach Lou D’Amico will also take the reins for first grade for the remainder of the season. Rosebud should be at full strength for this clash while Merewether are only missing Tayla Braithwaite through unavailability.
What the coaches say: Lou D’Amico has taken over as Adamstown coach after Ben Herron’s departure and said the first focus was “to get some enjoyment back”.
D’Amico was saddened by the resignation of Herron but said the squad “had a good meeting on Tuesday night” and “everyone should be ready to go this weekend”.
“We can’t go backwards … we’ve got to go forwards; it’s going to be a long season if we don’t try,” D’Amico said.
“But I think they’ll pick up the bit.”
United coach Cass Koppen expected Adamstown “will have something to prove” and did not anticipate another one-sided scoreline this time around.
“I don’t think the scoreline last week reflected the intensity of the game,” Koppen said.
“We finished our opportunities and they didn’t. Had they finished theirs it would’ve been a much closer scoreline.
“They’ve got some quality players and I’m expecting a tight affair.”
Bottom line: The match is the first of three in eight days for Adamstown, who back up against Thornton midweek before meeting South Wallsend in round 10. Rosebud have won just one game this season but have shown plenty of talent in patches. They have several quality players and can get their year back on track with a season-defining performance this weekend. Merewether are a quality outfit and are obviously unbeaten at the top of the table for a reason. Both sides have the talent to win and this could go either way. The result will be determined by who plays with the most discipline and desire.
South Wallsend v Mid North Coast
Sunday, May 7, 2.15pm
At Walker Fields
Last start: South Wallsend lost 5-2 to Merewether on Sunday; Mid North Coast beat Thornton 3-0 on Sunday.
Last time they met: They are yet to play each other this season.
Position on ladder: South Wallsend sixth, four points, Mid North Coast third, seven points.
Squad news: The Wolves will have up to five players out Saturday through unavailability but should be near full strength on Sunday. Mid North Coast coach Mick Day was still determining his line-ups for the weekend.
What the coaches say: South Wallsend coach Gary Wilson said the focus from here for the Wolves was on starting to gather some competition points.
“Obviously Saturday is going to be difficult with a number of players out and we have a lot of players making their first-grade debut,” Wilson said.
“But we are targeting a minimum of four points from the weekend, and the next four or five games are the games we are looking at to pick up some points.
“To do that we’ve got to take our chances. We made enough to win last weekend against Merewether but didn’t take them.”
Mid North Coast Mick Day felt as though his charges were showing improvement with every outing and predicted that “fitness will be key playing a weekend double-header”.
“We have six games under our belt now and, with a third of the season complete, we have learned a lot and we will continue to push forward and chase Merewether and Warners Bay,” Day said.
Bottom line: These two sides have not yet played this season but will battle each other two times in as many days in a tough weekend double-header. Both are desperate for competition points to move closer to league pace-setters Merewether and Warners Bay and this weekend provides a big opportunity to get some. Neither side appears to have played to their full potential yet and both have danger players capable of single-handedly influencing the game. But the results will come down to a strong team effort, as well as how well players back up on Sunday after playing Saturday. Another tight one.
Points table: Merewether 21, Warners Bay 18, Mid North Coast 7, Wallsend 5, Adamstown 5, South Wallsend 4, Thornton 0.