New Lambton 4 (Tara Andrews 2, Georgia Amess, Lauren Allan) def. South Wallsend 4 (Ashlee Brodigan, Gab Brodie, Erin Wilson, Gemma Harrison) (7-5 on aggregate)
Sunday 25 August, 2 pm, Lisle Carr Oval
New Lambton has confirmed their place in the Herald Women’s Premier League decider at Rockwell Automation Park next Sunday afternoon, after surviving a late scare from South Wallsend to claim a 7-5 aggregate victory over the Wolves.
The Eagles sprung to a 3-0 lead at Lisle Carr Oval in the second leg of the semi-finals, with the team’s lethal attack of Tara Andrews, Georgia Amess, and Lauren Allan each chipping in a goal. Trailing 6-1 on aggregate, the Wolves knew it was all or nothing in the second half.
They answered appropriately. Four separate players found the back of the net, with Ash Brodigan and Gab Brodie opening the flurry before Erin Wilson and Gemma Harrison put the Wolves into the lead in the second leg. The Eagles were suddenly behind.
There was still a gap to close for South Wallsend, however. They were leading 4-3 at Lisle Carr Oval but trailing overall. A single goal would level the total, and put the Wolves through on away goals.
It wasn’t to be though. Andrews had one final goal to give for her premiership-winning side, levelling the matchday result to 4-4 and firing New Lambton through to the Grand Final decider. It was close, but the Eagles had survived.
“We almost threw it all away,” New Lambton coach Keelan Hamilton said.
“The team was absolutely cruising, and I think we nearly stopped playing at half time. The penalty and some poor play from ourselves let the nerves in, and the tide turned massively. Luckily Tara was able to score and get us through.”
Although the Eagles have reason to celebrate as they move within just a single match of the premiership and championship double, Hamilton said there was a slight “bitter taste” after the second-half struggle the Wolves put them through.
“It was a bit unfortunate really, we did really well to qualify for the final, but the game left a bit of a sour note for us,” said the Eagles coach.
“It’s not something that we’ll dwell on though, the whole team will sit down early this week and have a talk about it. It won’t have bearing on the Grand Final at all.”
For Wolves boss, Cas Wright, ending on a “high note” despite the rollercoaster season the first-grade team had been run through was a great positive for the team. They may not have clinched a spot in the final, but they came nearly as close as they could in the end.
“We finished on a high note, which is a good end to the season considering we had a disaster overall,” Wright said.
“Our whole year has gone against us, and we feel like we’ve been a bit cursed. Got a Southy curse this time around.
“Despite that, we took it to them. With ten against eleven, we just didn’t have the momentum to get there. A few things went wrong, and we found it difficult to find a spark, but the second half showed our quality. To put four goals on any team in the second half of a semi is great.
“We tried our hardest to overcome our curse – we made formation changes and subs, and honestly put in such a great showing despite some things going against us – but we just couldn’t get there in the end. To the girl’s credit, their second half was simply amazing.”
New Lambton will now contest the Herald Women’s Premier League Grand Final at Rockwell Automation Oval next Sunday, September 1.
Warners Bay 2 (Tara Pender, Cassidy Davis) def. by Merewether United 2 (Jane McDonald, Tamara Nash) (3-5 on aggregate)
Sunday 25 August, 4.30pm, John Street Oval
Merewether battled through a tight contest with Warners Bay at John Street Oval, drawing on their 3-1 lead from the first leg to book their ticket to the Herald Women’s Premier League Grand Final next weekend.
The Panthers drew first blood in front of their home crowd. Tara Pender drew the overall aggregate back to a one-goal lead for Merewether in the 17th minute, before United’s Jane McDonald answered back within two minutes.
Tamara Nash found a second for the travelling team just ahead of half-time to reinstate Merewether’s two-goal buffer in the battle, and give them a 2-1 lead on the day. Cassidy Davis scored early in the second, and the final 2-2 score sealed Merewether’s triumph.
For Cass Koppen, who has guided the Llamas to three grand final showdowns in the past five years, the two-all draw may just have been the “most complete performance” her side has put out onto the park in the 2019 season.
“The game was certainly one of the best we’ve played in a long time,” said Koppen.
“It was the best we’ve played all year on the field, we were quite dominant and the girls did exceptionally well. I think our midfield – Jane McDonald, Leah Guiffre, Taylah Braithwaite – controlled the game and were the difference for us.
”They’re the best midfield combination in the league and the game this weekend saw them click perfectly for the first time this year. Jane getting a goal was great, and Leah and Tay added a lot of chances. They were just phenomenal for us from start to finish.”
Merewether left John Street Oval on cloud nine. Warners Bay, who lost to the Llamas in a high-stakes slugfest in last year’s decider, will miss the big dance for the first time since 2016.
“First half we were nowhere near good enough, we started off the game beautifully scoring the first goal but then we just gave away a cheap one a minute later to put us right on the back foot,” said Panthers coach Craig Atkins of his side’s performance.
“We didn’t have enough urgency, and we lost the battle in the first half. We looked good once we got the ball onto the deck but just couldn’t find that consistently for 90 minutes. We’ve got a lot to build on next season, and a lot to learn from.
“With the squad, we have here at Warners Bay we want to be back here again, and back in the final.
“Next year we need to get back there, the girls will definitely be hungry to do that for sure. We just have to suck it up now, take a break, and get back into it all again.”
Merewether will now contest the Herald Women’s Premier League Grand Final at Rockwell Automation Oval next Sunday, September 1.