PREVIEW: Leading pair slip clear in race for Lotto NRFL Women’s Premiership

By Joan Grey

Entering the second round-robin of the Lotto NRFL Women’s Premiership, Auckland United leads the charge, with West Coast Rangers nipping at their heels one point behind.

Fencibles’ victory last weekend saw them leapfrog into third place over Eastern Suburbs and Western Springs.

This weekend, the top half of the ladder squares off against the bottom half. The top four teams might be expected to take easy points. But upsets can’t be ruled out.

Hamilton Wanderers’ Zara Erol-Watt challenges Ellerslie’s Abby Wright (right) in last weekend’s Lotto NRFL Women’s Premiership match. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Game of the week

Seventh-placed Hibiscus Coast faces a daunting task on Sunday when they host thriving Auckland United.

On paper, the odds are stacked against Hibiscus Coast; they have secured just one win this season, and that was against bottom-placed Hamilton Wanderers.

Auckland United are in white-hot form and are unbeaten, plundering 23 goals and conceding just three.

In the sides’ last four cup and league encounters, Auckland United have won by a margin of two or more goals in each match, and Coast has scored just once against them.

In the sides’ most recent clash three weeks ago, Auckland United cruised to a 6-0 victory.

Coast will look to young forward Danica Urlich-Beech, who has scored six of their 10 goals, to provide the spark.

Will Auckland United add another notch on their belt or can Coast capitalise on home advantage and defy the odds?

Anything can happen in football, as Ellerslie’s round-six upset win over Eastern Suburbs has shown.

Player to watch

Hamilton Wanderers captain Maddi Ollington marked her 100th match for the Waikato side with a 75th-minute goal against Ellerslie last weekend.

For Wanderers, it was a painful loss, leaving them winless and at the foot of the table.

If they’re going to climb out of trouble, they’ll look to their leaders, and Ollington, in particular, to show them the way.

In her eighth season with Wanderers, Ollington (25) brings seasoned experience and composure to the midfield.

Beyond her playing role, she is a Women’s Development Officer for Ricki Herbert’s RH3 Football Academy in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

Hamilton Wanderers captain Maddison Ollington … her experience will be important. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Bold prediction

Last weekend, former Auckland United forward Bree Johnson debuted for West Coast Rangers with a match-winning double in their 2-1 victory over Eastern Suburbs.

This weekend Rangers are pitted against Western Springs. I’m banking on Johnson getting on the scoreboard again.

Golden Boot

8 — Sofia Garcia (Eastern Suburbs)
7 — Zoe Benson (Eastern Suburbs)
6 — Danica Urlich-Beech (Hibiscus Coast), Rene Wasi (Auckland United), Shannon Henson (West Coast Rangers)
4 — Charlotte Roche (Auckland United)
3— Maisy Dewell (West Coast Rangers), Megan Lee (Western Springs), Rosie Missen (Fencibles United)


Game to be played on Friday May 10, 2024

Western Springs v West Coast Rangers
Seddon Fields, Westmere, 7.30pm

Games to be played on Sunday March 24, 2024

Lotto NRFL Women’s Premiership

Hibiscus Coast v Auckland United
Stanmore Bay Park, Whangaparaoa, 1pm

Eastern Suburbs v Hamilton Wanderers
Madills Farm, St Heliers, 1pm

Ellerslie v Fencibles United
Michaels Ave, Ellerslie, 3pm

Joan Grey

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

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