By Jonno Ross
Results this weekend may decide whether this year’s Lotto NRFL Women’s Premier League turns into a four–way battle for the title … or a walkover for leaders Northern Rovers.
After seven-and-a-bit rounds, the competition is clearly dividing into two groups and last year’s champions, Eastern Suburbs, might hold the key to how the rest of the season rolls out.
Here’s our preview of the round:
Northern Rovers (1st) v Eastern Suburbs (4th)
McFetridge Park, Auckland
Northern Rovers come into this week’s game in fine form and as the only undefeated team in the league.
Three points clear, and with a game in hand over their closest competitors, they now face what could be their trickiest fixture yet when they host reigning champions Eastern Suburbs.
Last week, Suburbs had a must-win game against second-placed Western Springs. A win would give them a fighting chance of chasing their third title in a row; a loss would have left them in no man’s land.
They rose to the challenge and handed Springs their second loss of the season, beating them convincingly 3-0.
That result should send Suburbs into this game with confidence and a belief they can win, especially as Rovers managed only a 0-0 draw against Springs.
Both teams need the win — Northern Rovers get the chance to pull clear and build what could be an unassailable lead.
A victory for Eastern Suburbs would stir up the league perfectly, potentially turning the title racing in a four-team race, with only four points separating the contenders.
Other fixtures (with current league placings)
Western Springs (2nd) v West Coast Rangers (5th)
North Harbour Stadium, Albany, 7.30pm
Auckland United (3rd) v Tauranga City (8th)
Keith Hay Park, Auckland, 2pm
Ellerslie (6th) v Hamilton Wanderers (7th)
Michaels Ave Reserve, Auckland, 3pm
How they stand
Last weekend’s games
Friends of Football writer Jonno Ross is a former New Zealand U-20 goalkeeper who is the team manager for Mount Albert Ponsonby. He supports the All Whites, the Football Ferns, the Wellington Phoenix and Arsenal.
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