By Joan Grey
The Lotto NRFL Women’s Premier League, the highest tier of women’s football across the Auckland and Waikato-Bay of Plenty regions, kicks off its 2023 season this Friday night (March 24).
Eight teams will vie for the Women’s Premier League title over 14 rounds.
Eight more teams will compete in the new-look NRFL Women’s Championship, a tier below the WPL.
READ MORE: Floodlit games to get new-look Lotto NRFL Women’s Championship underway >>>>
Fans are spoiled for choice with a full weekend of Lotto NRFL Women’s Premier League fixtures with games on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Games of the week
Western Springs head coach Ryan Faithfull will expect his green-and-whites to continue their strong form from last season, in which Springs secured runners-up honours in the NRFL Lotto Women’s Premier League and the subsequent women’s National League.
Springs face newly-promoted Hibiscus Coast. Competing last year in the Championship competition one rung below the Premier League, Hibiscus Coast were unbeaten and wrapped up a league/cup double, taking both the NRF Women’s Championship and the Carol Waller Cup.
READ MORE: Hibiscus Coast land women’s league and Carol Waller Cup double >>>>
Hibiscus Coast replaced Tauranga City, who were relegated to the Championship.
This exciting match-up gives Coast a chance to test themselves against one of Auckland’s best.
Player to watch
Hibiscus Coast winger Danica Beech was the top goalscorer of the NRF Women’s Championship last season, finding the back of the net 13 times.
With her blistering pace and clinical finishing, she’ll be key to the Hibiscus Coast attack.
Whenuapai’s Fred Taylor Park hosts a ‘battle of the blues’ doubleheader on Saturday.
The luck of the draw sees both women’s and men’s Hamilton Wanderers and West Coast Rangers teams play each other on the same day at the same venue.
Women’s Premier League action kicks off at 12.30 pm, followed by the men’s Northern League fixture at 3pm.
After Tauranga City’s departure at the end of last season, Hamilton Wanderers remain the only non-Auckland team in the Women’s Premier competition. Wanderers will be sure to put on a strong display of the Waikato’s top talent.
West Coast Rangers have announced a host of new player signings, including several making the move west from defending league champions Northern Rovers.
READ MORE: Key players return for new season with West Coast Rangers in Women’s Premier League >>>>
Both teams will be itching for a win to kickstart their 2023 Women’s Premier League campaigns.
Player to watch
Former Football Fern defender Nicole Stratford returns to the West Coast Rangers defence this season.
Having previously played for German club USV Jena in the Frauen-Bundesliga, she offers a wealth of experience to the West Coast Rangers backline.
One more thing …
Eastern Suburbs have announced six new signings ahead as they start their defence of their national title.
These include two Japanese players and a trio of players from arch rivals Western Springs.
READ MORE: Eastern Suburbs make new signings as they start defence of their national title >>>>
Game to be played on Friday March 24, 2023
Western Springs v Hibiscus Coast
Seddon Fields, Auckland, 7.30 pm
Game to be played on Saturday March 25, 2023
West Coast Rangers v Hamilton Wanderers
Fred Taylor Park, Auckland, 12.30 pm
Games to be played on Sunday March 26, 2023
Eastern Suburbs v Auckland United
Ngahue Reserve, Auckland, 1 pm
Ellerslie v Northern Rovers
Michael’s Ave Reserve, Auckland, 3 pm
Friends of Football writer Joan Grey loves playing and writing about football. She attends ACG Strathallan College and plays football for Franklin United.