PREVIEW: Leading pair go head-to-head in Lotto NRFL Women’s Premiership

By Joan Grey

Round 14 of the Lotto NRFL Women’s Premiership promises further excitement with a highly-anticipated top-of-the-table clash and fiercely competitive fixtures between national league qualification contenders.

Last weekend saw little change on the ladder and the chasers’ race for third and fourth qualifying position remains grippingly tight.

Sitting third on the ladder, Eastern Suburbs and Fencibles United are still locked together on 16 points, having succumbed respectively to the leading pair, Auckland United and West Coast Rangers.

Trailing two points behind in fifth are Western Springs after their surprise draw with Hamilton Wanderers, followed by Hibiscus Coast and Ellerslie who played out a goalless stalemate for the second time this season.

Bree Johnson … will be in West Coast Rangers colours when she plays her former club, Auckland United.

Game of the week

League juggernauts Auckland United and West Coast Rangers are set for a top-of-the-table clash this Thursday night.

The two sides have dominated the 2024 Women’s Premiership season, establishing a staggering 17-point margin between themselves and their nearest challengers.

Auckland United holds a razor-thin one-point advantage over West Coast Rangers and boasts an unbeaten record.

But if any side can shatter their perfect run, it’s West Coast Rangers.

Their last encounter saw Auckland United scoop a 3-1 win at Keith Hay Park. That loss is West Coast Rangers’ only blemish on their otherwise impeccable record.

Rangers’ goal threats will come from leading scorer Shannon Henson and striker Bree Johnson who joined them from Auckland United earlier this year.

West Coast Rangers now play host at Fred Taylor Park, where they have won all home games this season.

Thursday night’s fixture may well decide the Women’s Premiership champions.

New Zealand’s Michaela Foster … has joined Auckland United to stay active between A-League seasons. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Player to watch

Auckland United have signed 18 cap Football Fern Michaela Foster during her A-League off-season.

Foster joins Auckland United after two seasons playing professionally for Wellington Phoenix where she made 38 A-League appearances and became their set-piece specialist.

She will reunite with head coach Ben Bate, who led her Northern Rovers team to title victory in the 2022 Women’s Premiership.

At Auckland United, Foster also reunites with former Wellington Phoenix teammates Saskia Vosper and Chloe Knott.

While primarily a left back for the Phoenix, Foster’s versatility allows her to excel in all areas of the pitch.

The high-profile addition of Foster bodes well for Auckland United ahead of their crucial West Coast Rangers clash.

Bold prediction

Ellerslie looks to be the Achilles heel of Eastern Suburbs.

In April, Ellerslie notched their first win of the season against Eastern Suburbs with a 2-1 upset that rattled the Women’s Premiership.

It wasn’t an isolated incident. In the 2023 Women’s National League, Ellerslie secured their only win of the competition against Eastern Suburbs — a 1-0 triumph — effectively derailing Eastern Suburbs grand final aspirations.

History hints at Ellerslie upstaging their East Auckland rivals this weekend.

Golden Boot

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


Games to be played on Thursday June 27, 2024

West Coast Rangers v Auckland United
Fred Taylor Park, Whenuapai, 7.30pm

Games to be played on Friday June 28, 2024

Western Springs v Fencibles United
Seddon Fields, Westmere, 1pm

Games to be played on Sunday June 30, 2024

Hibiscus Coast v Hamilton Wanderers
Stanmore Bay Park, Whangaparaoa, 1pm

Ellerslie v Eastern Suburbs
Michaels Ave, Ellerslie, 3pm

Joan Grey

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

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