PHOTO: Valentine Sports Photography
Match of the Round
Merewether v Wallsend
At Myamblah Oval
Last start: Merewether beat South Wallsend 6-0; Wallsend had the bye
Position on ladder: Merewether second, three points; Wallsend fourth, nil points
Squad news: Merewether should be at full strength aside from Sarah Halvorsen, who is nursing a shoulder complaint. Wallsend is without Kalista Hunter, who is serving a suspension carried over from last year’s Grand Final, and Sophie O’Brien is carrying an injury.
What the coaches say: Merewether coach Cass Koppen will lose key players Rhali Dobson and Lori Depczynski for a few rounds this season due to unavailability and wants to capitalise on their strengths before they are away.
“Wallsend are quite an unknown for us because they didn’t play in the opening round but typically they’re a physical match-up for us and I’d expect that to be the same,” Koppen said.
“They have a lot of experience in the middle and have gained Kally Lewis, who’s always a dangerous target player up front.
“We’re coming off a good win but need to keep winning for confidence and need to maximise points in this stretch before we lose a few of our players.”
The match will be the first of three in a week for Wallsend and assistant coach Strat Kapalos said taking maximum points would be a huge boost to their season.
“It’s a real opportunity for us to get off to a flying start if we play well,” Kapalos said.
“The fact that Merewether were leading 5-0 at half-time in their first game indicates they are probably dangerous all around the park and definitely need to be watched.”
Bottom line: Wallsend are yet to kick a ball in anger this season and from all reports are “itching” to get their season started, so expect them to come out firing in this one. Merewether are always composed and measured but may need to match the intensity of what sounds to be a fired-up and raring-to-go Red Devils to win this one.
Adamstown v South Wallsend
At Adamstown Oval
Last start: Adamstown lost 4-2 to Warners Bay; South Wallsend lost 6-0 to Merewether
Position on ladder: Adamstown fifth, nil points; South Wallsend sixth, nil points
Squad news: Adamstown have no changes to their opening round squad. They are still without first-grade goalkeeper Bek Miller, who is out through Sydney cricket commitments. Reserve shot-stopper Olivia Sneddon gave a good account of herself in round one and steps up again. Erin Wilson and Naomi Abbott come into the starting side for South Wallsend after both coming off the bench in round one. Georgia Amess, however, is potentially unavailable and, at this stage, Stacey Day still remains on the sidelines for the Wolves.
What the coaches say: Adamstown coach Ben Herron will instruct his side to hit the ground running after they paid the price for a slow start against Warners Bay.
“Southy look to have turned over a few players and we are kind of going in blind as to what to expect from them,” Herron said.
“In terms of our own game, we started pretty sluggishly against Warners Bay and we really need to make sure we are switched on and ready to go so we don’t have to chase the game again.”
South Wallsend coach Gary Wilson was wary of Adamstown but said the main goal was to improve on their nervous first-up effort against Merewether.
“Warners Bay are obviously the competition favourites and they did an OK job against them and scored a couple of goals, but at the moment we’re just concerned with our performance and with building that confidence,” he said.
“We need to be better defensively and to play without the nerves.”
Bottom line: Both sides are chasing their first win of the season and have plenty of quality in the ranks. Adamstown played well in the opening round without a result and paid the price for being slow out of the blocks. They are going up against a team who were well-beaten in round one but it would be dangerous to discount South Wallsend and the hosts won’t be able to allow any concentration lapses. South Wallsend will be boosted by the skill and experience of returning players Naomi Abbott and Erin Wilson and need a strong start to lift their spirits. Whoever scores first may have the advantage in this one.
Warners Bay v Thornton
At John Street Oval
Last start: Warners Bay beat Adamstown 4-2; Thornton lost 8-0 to Mid North Coast
Position on ladder: Warners Bay third, three points; Thornton last, nil points
Squad news: Westfield W-League Newcastle Jets captain and Westfield Matildas player Gema Simon is still out through injury but could make her first appearance for Warners Bay on Wednesday night in their rescheduled round-two fixture with Wallsend. Warners Bay’s squad otherwise remains the same. Thornton are without experienced centre-back Kristy Martin, who sustained a quad injury in their opening-round loss to Mid North Coast.
What the coaches say: Warners Bay coach Cassidy Davis was not reading much into Thornton’s first-up eight-goal loss and will urge her team to not rest on their laurels.
“Thornton are a hard team to play against; they just throw everything at you and you don’t really know what to expect,” Davis said.
“But we’ve just got to worry about our game and on making sure we improve our performance against Adamstown.”
Redbacks coach Alan Primmer believes his team did themselves no favours in their loss to Mid North Coast and will warn his side against being overawed by a star-studded Warners Bay.
“I’ll be asking my girls to be excited to be playing a team like Warners Bay, who have the names and players they do,” Primmer said.
“When you come up against sides like that you want to be pushing yourself.
“It’s attitude I’m looking for; we need to be switched on.”
Bottom line: From the outside, it looks like this will be a one-sided affair. Warners Bay have several big-name players while Thornton is a team built on youth and enthusiasm. But the Redbacks have shown plenty of times in the past two seasons that they are capable of holding the competition heavyweights at bay with some gutsy performances. They could cause some headaches for the home side if they replicate those efforts on Sunday.