PREVIEW: Champions look to gain ground on early Women’s Premiership leaders

By Joan Grey

Entering round three of the Lotto NRFL Women’s Premiership, West Coast Rangers and Fencibles United lead the table but defending champions Auckland United lurk close behind with a game in hand.

Auckland United, who won the OFC Women’s Champions League last month, lived up to their billing last weekend.

In their first match of the season, they toppled Ellerslie 4-0, and former Wellington Phoenix players Chloe Knott and Saskia Vosper made appearances off the Auckland United bench.

Hamiltonians can catch Auckland United in action against Wanderers on Sunday.

Former Wellington Phoenix midfielder Chloe Knott is now playing for Auckland United.

Game of the week

The green-clad clubs Western Springs and Hibiscus Coast meet on Friday night at Seddon Fields.

Coast, having clinched the U-19 Tournament in Napier last year, boast plenty of youth talent within their line-up and will be eager to notch their first win after losing 1-3 to West Coast Rangers in their season opener last weekend.

Western Springs secured a 1-0 victory over Eastern Suburbs with Anya Stephan’s 62nd-minute goal last weekend.

Springs’ largely new line-up this season suggests unpredictability and surprises.

In their last match, only two starting players, Tiana Hill and Megan Lee, returned from the Springs starting eleven that triumphed in last year’s Kate Sheppard Cup final.

Player to watch

New Zealand U-19 player Zoe Benson (17) scored eight goals for Suburbs in last year’s Women’s Premiership, after joining the club from Bucklands Beach for the 2022 season.

The technically talented and highly-skilled midfielder may provide the x-factor against Fencibles on Friday.

Zoe Benson playing for the national U-19 team against Papua New Guinea last season. Photo: / Phototek.

Bold prediction

Fencibles clash with Eastern Suburbs at Riverhills Park on Sunday.

Premiership newcomers Fencibles are off to a flying start with two wins in their first two games. But they’ll face their toughest test yet against league heavyweights Suburbs.

I’ll pick a 1-1 stalemate.


Games to be played on Friday April 5, 2024

West Coast Rangers v Ellerslie
Fred Taylor Park, Whenuapai, 7.30pm

Western Springs v Hibiscus Coast
Seddon Fields, Westmere, 7.30pm

Games to be played on Sunday April 7, 2024

Auckland United v Hamilton Wanderers
Keith Hay Park, Mt Roskill, 1pm

Fencibles United v Eastern Suburbs
Riverhills Park, Pakuranga, 2pm

Joan Grey

Friends of Football writer Joan Grey loves playing and writing about football.

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