WPL: Herald Women’s Premier League champions Merewether United begin title defence against Adamstown

By , 25/04/2020 19:35

Merewether and Adamstown meet this weekend for the first time since last year’s finals series. United have lost danger player Sarah Halvorsen, right, this season. Picture: Simone De PeakMerewether will be missing some familiar faces when theybegin their championship defence againstAdamstown in round two ofHeraldWomen’s Premier League on Sunday.

United have lost experienced trio Jane McDonald, Sarah Halvorsen and Tayla Braithwaite, who are all having the year off football.

Coach Cassie Koppen conceded they would be big losses but felt Merewether still had plenty of quality to drive their quest for back-to-back championships.

“We try to reinvent ourselves every year, so as much as a loss that they are, I don’t think it’s been a big shock to the system for our players,” Koppen said.

“We change formation every year and the players are used to changes and we still have our core eight or nine starting players.”

Merewether host Adamstown at Lambton’s Arthur Edden Oval on Sunday and it will be the first time the inner city rivals have met since United beat Rosebud 6-1 across the two-legged semi-finals last August.

Rosebud opened their season with a 2-1 win over Thornton last weekend while United had the bye in round one.

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“We’re still pretty confident but Adamstown are always an underdog side,” Koppen said.

“They don’t have any big-name players but always put in a tough showing against us and we enjoy playing them.

“They go in hard and fast and I think there is a lot of mutual respect between the teams.”

The match is the first of back-to-back encounters with the league’s pace-setters for Adamstown. They take on last year’s minor premiers and beaten grand finalists Warners Bay in round three.

“We won’t be changing anything for this weekend and we’ll be going at it like any other game,” Cummings said.

“They’re the team to chase andwe know we always have to get up for them. It’s definitely good to get them early in the season and then Warners Bay next. No disrespect to other teams but it definitely lifts the standard at training knowing we’re coming up against the top teams.”

Warners Bay clearlystated their championship and premiership intentions this year when they opened the season with an 8-1 win over South Wallsend in round one.

They host competition newcomers New Lambton at John Street Oval on Sunday. The Eagles had a 1-1 draw with Wallsend in their first WPL match.

New Lambton’s Joey Burgess will missthe match through unavailability and Warners Bay will be without Sophie Stapleford, who is nursing a quadriceps injury.

Eagles coach Keelan Hamilton said “from a club point of view we’re excited to be able to play a team who have been a benchmark side”.

“I know we’re capable of putting in a better performance than last week but they’ve got some experienced players and we know it’s going to be a tough game,” Hamilton said.

Wallsend play Thornton at Fletcher’s Kurraka Oval in the other match and South Wallsend have the bye. All games are at 2.30pm Sunday.

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