HUNTER SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Match of the Round
New Lambton Eagles v Merewether United
Saturday 11th August, 2:45pm
Last meeting: Round 19, 2018: Merewether 3, New Lambton 1 at Alder Park.
Ladder: New Lambton 3rd, 27 points; Merewether 2nd, 31 points.
Past three starts (most recent first):
New Lambton- won Adamstown 6-3 (h), lost Merewether 3-1 (h), won South Wallsend 1-0 (a).
Merewether- lost 2-1 Warners Bay (a), won 3-1 New Lambton (a), won 1-0 South Wallsend (h).
New Lambton will be at full-strength while Merewether is still without Jamee Ellis. Imogen Tusek is unavailable due to work commitments and Tamara Nash is awaiting doctor’s clearance due to a head clash at training on Tuesday.
At the start of the season, New Lambton were announced as newcomers to the competition and many questioned how well they would perform in unfamiliar territory. They have certainly impressed this season and now, they are gearing up to play finals football against Merewether, one of the competition’s heavyweights.
These sides have met on three occasions this season, with a tight draw in both Round 5 and 12, and Merewether getting the job done in Round 19.
On paper, New Lambton has no trouble finding the back of the net, with an impressive 48 goals scored to give them the second-best attack in the competition. On the other hand, Merewether has the best defence in the League with five clean sheets and shot-stopper Alison Logue leading the charge.
Alder Park has been a happy stomping ground for the Eagles, having only lost twice there this season, with one of those being a 3-1 defeat against Merewether three weeks ago.
Merewether has the upper hand when it comes to experience, playing finals football every year since the competition began in 2012. Their track record is impressive, making the Grand Final twice in 2015 and 2017 and winning on both occasions.
It’s difficult to predict a winner when both sides were barely separated in the regular season but it may come down to experience which is Merewether’s forte.
What the coaches say:
Keelan Hamilton (New Lambton)
“It’s very exciting for us and all the girls are looking forward to it. There has been an extra spring in our step. We have known we are in the finals for a number of weeks now, so to actually be here is really exciting and we are looking forward to Saturday.”
“Merewether have a lot of experience and they have played finals many times before so having the knowledge and experience to win these types of games makes them a very dangerous opponent. We haven’t beaten them all year and they have only lost two games which was to Warners Bay, but we aren’t daunted by the challenge. Last time we played them, we didn’t take our chances when we created them and they took theirs which showed their experience so I think it will come down to who takes their opportunities.”
Cass Koppen (Merewether)
“We had a really good training session on Tuesday with the boys and just worked on different tactics and positional changes. We haven’t lost to them [New Lambton] yet and we have a lot of finals experience so I’m confident the girls will step up and perform on Saturday.”
“I think this week is just a bit of fine tuning for us and working on our game plan because their biggest strength is their attack, particularly through their midfield with Tara Andrews. We need to make sure we are switched on for the full 90 minutes because they can score quickly and they have a lot of pace out wide with Georgia and Joey. We have conceded less than 20 goals each season since I started which is pretty amazing considering we only have three fullbacks. There will be a lot of pressure on our defence, particularly on Lori being in the centre, but if we get behind the ball quickly and have quick transitions we should get a good result.”
Key: Who will take their chances and remain composed for the full 90+ minutes?
South Wallsend Wolves v Warners Bay Panthers
Sunday 12th August, 2:30pm
Last meeting: Round 15, 2018: Warners Bay 3, South Wallsend 2 at Walker Fields.
Ladder: South Wallsend 4th, 14 points; Warners Bay 1st, 38 points.
Past three starts (most recent first):
South Wallsend- drew Wallsend 3-3 (h), won Adamstown 2-1 (h), lost Merewether 1-0 (a).
Warners Bay- won Merewether 2-1 (h), won Wallsend 4-0 (h), won Adamstown 6-1 (a).
Warners Bay will be at full-strength.
When these two sides first met in Round 1, Warners Bays’ 8-1 demolishing of the Wolves signalled the start of a very long season. But, to their credit, South Wallsend turned their season around and are playing finals football for the first time since joining the competition in 2015.
On paper, it appears as a one-sided affair between these two sides, with Warners Bay winning on all three occasions this season. Historically, South Wallsend hasn’t beaten Warners Bay since Round 20, 2016, but, it would be dangerous to discount a side who has beaten New Lambton and narrowly lost to Merewether.
Warners Bay is strong across the park and have proven to be difficult to break down, with New Lambton being the only team to defeat them this season. Their fleet-footed combination of Tara Pender, Cassidy Davis and Jenna Kingsley is simply unmatched. On the other side, South Wallsend’s new signing, Gema Simon, has made an immediate impact on the team and is dangerous in any position. Add in Sass Seaborn, Beth Kermode and Gaby Brodie and the stage is set for an enthralling battle on Sunday afternoon.
South Wallsend may not have finals experience, but they are a strong side who are committed to performing well for each other. Their statistics aren’t appealing but they still manage to get the job done to their credit.
What the coaches say:
Cassidy Davis (Warners Bay)
“We are all really excited and can’t wait to get out there and play football. We had a bye in the last round so we are feeling fresh and looking forward to a tough match. South Wallsend are strong across the park but I think their biggest strength is their quick transition into attack. We have beaten them three times this season but that doesn’t mean anything to us. Finals are always a different game so we need to make sure we work hard and maintain a strong mentality to get the result we want.”
Key: Can South Wallsend turn the tide of their recent results against Warners Bay and get off to a flying start?