PHOTO: Valentine Sports Photography
Match of the Round
Sunday, July 24, 2.15pm
Warners Bay v South Wallsend
At John St Oval
Last start: Warners Bay beat Thornton 8-0; South Wallsend lost 4-1 to Adamstown.
Head to head: Played twice this season. Warners Bay won 5-0 in round six and 4-2 in round 13.
Position on ladder: Warners Bay third (22), South Wallsend fifth (14)
A strong rivalry has developed between these two sides this year and, although Warners Bay have secured their semi-final berth with Merewether already and South Wallsend’s season will not extend past the last round, this game promises to be a good one.
Both sides inherited several players from last year’s losing grand final squad from Valentine.
This match is also likely to be the first of three in a week for Warners Bay, who still have a make-up match to play with Wallsend after their game was postponed last night due to the wet weather.
South Wallsend player-coach Elyce Bates expected to have a full-strength complement available and said the squad was keen cause an upset before the season was out.
“Everyone is pretty pumped to play them and there is a bit of rivalry there with quite a few ex-Valentine players in their side as well,” Bates said.
“They’re a good team and play good football and it is always good to play them.
“This is our last game against a top-four side and, considering we had such a shocker against Adamstown last weekend, we’ve regrouped and I think we’ll put on a good performance.”
Warners Bay coach Leon Davis said “it is going to be a big week to finish with three games” but maintained “we are just taking it one game at a time”.
“Southy have got everything to play for … I think they will have a personal point to prove and we will definitely be wary of them,” he said.
The match will be the last appearance for Warners Bay’s Jemma House, who is returning to the United States to play college football.
Saturday, July 23, 2.15pm
Adamstown v Mid North Coast
At Adamstown Oval
Last start: Adamstown beat South Wallsend 4-1; Mid North Coast lost 5-1 to Merewether.
Head to head: Played twice this season. Adamstown won 4-2 in round six and 6-0 in round 13.
Position on ladder: Adamstown first with 43 points; Mid North Coast last with two points.
From the outset, this may look like a foregone conclusion – the minor premiers taking on the winless, last-placed side.
But the match will be Adamstown’s last before the semi-finals as they have a bye in the last round of the season and coach Ben Herron does not want to see any complacency.
“I still want to make sure the girls go out there and put in a strong performance; I will be making sure everyone is switched on because we want to go into the finals on the front foot,” Adamstown coach Ben Herron said.
“And, as usual, I will be looking for a pretty composed and disciplined performance.”
Rosebud go into the match without captain Clare Cummings and Tayla Gregory, who are both unavailable.
It has been a long season for Mid North Coast, who were semi-finalists last year but lost several experienced players in the off-season and have been able to muster a win in 2016.
But they have played some good football at times and had Adamstown on the back foot when they first met this season before going down by two goals. They also go into this game with nothing to lose.
“We’ve got two games to go and we’ve just got to go out there and give it our best shot,” Mid North Coast coach Matt Baker said.
Mid North Coast are still without goalkeeper Jess Sanderson.
Thornton v Wallsend
At Thornton Park
Last start: Thornton lost 8-0 to Warners Bay; Wallsend beat Mid North Coast 3-0 on July 3.
Head to head: Played twice this season. Wallsend won 7-0 in round six and 3-1 in round 13.
Position on ladder: Wallsend fourth (24); Thornton sixth (12)
Wallsend coach Marc Hingston has highlighted attitude and preparation as key components as the Red Devils prepare to finish the season proper with potentially three games in a week.
Wallsend have not played since downing Mid North Coast 3-0 on July 3 and take the field this weekend without four key players.
Co-captain Keely Gawthrop, Casey Smith and Sophie O’Brien are all unavailable and Kalista Hunter is out until finals time through injury.
The Red Devils look likely to play third-placed Warners Bay midweek after their clash last night had to be postponed due to the wet weather.
They then play second-placed Merewether in their last hit-out before meeting Adamstown in the semi-finals.
Hingston said the main focus over the next fortnight would be Adamstown.
“We have had a couple of disrupted weeks with players unavailable and the weather and now we are just trying to plan for Adamstown,” Hingston said.
“We are trying to be fresh for the semi-finals, so it is a matter of working out what is the best way to approach the next week.”
Thornton coach Alan Primmer said his squad were sporting some “bumps and bruises” this week after playing a double-header last weekend but expected to have everyone available for the clash.
Primmer said the return of utility player Lucy Maddison would prove a boost for what he expected to be a tough game.
“I expect they will probably try to ramp it up,” Primmer said.
“Their coach won’t want to take the foot off the pedal leading up the semi-finals and I expect they’ll be basically wanting to work towards Adamstown.”
Merewether – bye
Herald WPL Points: Adamstown 43, Merewether 35, Warners Bay 32, Wallsend 24, South Wallsend 14, Thornton 12, Mid North Coast 2.