PREVIEW: National qualifying spots open up in Lotto NRFL Women’s Premiership

By Joan Grey

Soaring high at the top of the table, Auckland United and West Coast Rangers have become firm favourites for Women’s National League qualification.

That leaves two more national league spots for the taking, and the next tier of contenders are separated by only five points —  Eastern Suburbs, Fencibles, Suburbs, Western Springs, and Hibiscus Coast.

Results this weekend will shed more light on the race for national league qualification.

Game of the week

The Rennell Cup goes on the line this weekend when holders Eastern Suburbs host cross-town rivals Auckland United on their home turf at Madills Farm.

Suburbs claimed the inaugural cup in May last year, defeating Auckland 4-1 at Keith Hay Park.

READ MORE: About the Rennell Cup >>>>

Former New Zealand international Paul Rennell with the cup named after him. He played for Eastern Suburbs and Eden, one of Auckland United’s origin clubs.

Suburbs’ grip on the trophy is in jeopardy.

Last weekend, in the Kate Sheppard Cup clash, Auckland cruised to a 4-0 victory over Suburbs.

Auckland have been all-but invincible this season, boasting an eleven-game unbeaten record, ten of them wins.

Their only blemish came in May when held to a 2-2 draw by Suburbs.

One might say Suburbs has since lost their way, suffering defeats to lower-ranked teams Hibiscus Coast and Hamilton Wanderers.

Can the Rennell Cup holders rise to the occasion? Or will the Black and Gold wrestle back the trophy with their relentless form?

Player to watch

Integral to Hibiscus Coast’s backline, Charley March (16) has started every game this season.

The young gun is strong on the ball, with a powerful left foot that allows her to drive forward and join the attack.

March was selected for the New Zealand U-17 training camp in April and played a key role in Hibiscus Coast’s glory at the 2023 U-19 Championship in Napier.

Charley March leads the chase for possession in last season’s game against Northern Rovers. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Bold prediction

When Hibiscus Coast and Ellerslie met in the opening round, neither side could find the net, settling for a 0-0 draw.

Recently, both have found their feet in the league.

Notably, Hibiscus Coast’s forward Danica Urlich-Beech has scored five goals in her last three games.

I’m predicting both sides will get among the goals this weekend.

Golden Boot

11 — Danica Urlich-Beech (Hibiscus Coast)
10 — Shannon Henson (West Coast Rangers)
9 — Sofia Garcia (Eastern Suburbs)
7 — Zoe Benson (Eastern Suburbs), Bree Johnson (West Coast Rangers), Rene Wasi (Auckland United), Charlotte Roche (Auckland United)
5 — Chloe Knott (Auckland United), Rosie Missen (Fencibles United)


Games to be played on Sunday June 23, 2024

Eastern Suburbs v Auckland United
Madills Farm, St Heliers, 1pm

Hamilton Wanderers v Western Springs
Porritt Stadium, Hamilton, 1pm

Fencibles United v West Coast Rangers
Riverhills Park, Pakuranga, 1.30pm

Ellerslie v Hibiscus Coast
Michaels Ave, Ellerslie, 3pm

Joan Grey

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

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