It’s payback time in NPLW, with the start of the 2nd leg of games this weekend. How long will Canberra Croatia and Canberra Olympic remain undefeated?
Round 8 will kick-off at McKellar, where Belconnen United and Tuggeranong United meet on Saturday. The Blue Devils suffered a surprise defeat at Melrose last weekend against a well-organized, defensive West Canberra Wanderers that managed to frustrate them.
They face a similar opponent this weekend, and if they were able to comfortably get the three points in the season opener, the dynamics have changed since. Talia Backhouse and her troops have a lot of firepower, they need to let it loose early on to avoid doubting at home this weekend.
The Tuggies travel north full of confidence after their first win of the season last Sunday in Wagga Wagga. The team coached by Paulo Romero managed to get four points in this first round, as many as in 2021’s full season.
The five goals scored in the Riverina bring the season tally to eight, also as many as in 2021. It shows the work done in the South to improve the team and the positive dynamic the Tuggies are riding on. Expect a tight game at McKellar and Tuggeranong gearing up for an upset.
Surprise 3rd on the ladder after seven games, the West Canberra Wanderers host Gungahlin United at Melrose on Sunday afternoon. Rey Castro’s players don’t score a lot but have only conceded in three games in the first act of the season. Their solidity and teamwork is a delight week in week out, as well as their ability to explode in transition.
The Wanderers are yet to drop points at home in 2022 and will want to keep that streak alive this weekend. The battle of the midfield will be crucial but with Tara Cannon, Ginger Oliver and their teammates, West Canberra is ready.
The Gunners are alternating hot and cold again this season. A somewhat disappointing start see them stuck with five points only at this stage. Pat Mills’ troops have not found their groove yet, despite obvious talents on every line. The injuries and absences have played their part and are hopefully behind them now.
The low block offered by the Wanderers proved too hard to break for the Gunners when they met earlier this year and getting a result on their synthetic won’t be an easy fit. This game will be a real test, and an indication of things to come for Gungahlin United.
They were announced as title contenders, and they have not disappointed so far. Canberra Olympic are still undefeated in NPLW and have no intention to break that streak against the Wagga City Wanderers on Saturday at O’Connor Enclosed.
Nicole Begg has managed to create a strong team out of skilled individualities and has reaped the rewards of her excellent job so far. The season opener in the Riverina ended in an emphatic win for Olympic, and a similar result might be on the card this weekend.
The Wanderers are going through a complicated season in 2022. They have conceded twice as much as any other team in the league and are struggling to find the back of the net offensively. Resilience and teamwork must be words to live by in the Riverina if the young squad coached by Robert Tuksar want better results this time around.
There is talent in Wagga Wagga, but the lack of experience has been costly so far. A trip to O’Connor is not where the Wanderers will expect a result, but building a squad is also learning to improve against the better teams every time they meet.
Canberra United Academy will face Canberra Croatia in the game of the round, Sunday at Hawker. Last season, this game was the first and only loss Canberra Croatia conceded in NPLW in two years.
They have not lost anymore since either. Chloe Lincoln was the hero in 2021, she will need another special performance to prevent this season’s scenario at Deakin, where Canberra Croatia pressed high and suffocated the Academy. Sarah West’s players were no match for Deakin then but have certainly improved since.
The team coached by Zoran Glavinic has been seating at the top of the table since day one in 2022, losing points only to Olympic in NPLW. The well-oiled machine has had to deal with injuries in 2022 and have so far managed to perform despite important players missing.
The tactics used in Round 1 against the Academy worked a treat, reiterating them at Hawker will not be easy. Canberra United’s home ground and its long synthetic pitch is the only place Croatia loses at these days. Jennifer Bisset, Brittany Palombi and co. will want to end that narrative on Sunday.
Saturday 28 May
Belconnen United v Tuggeranong United (McKellar Park, 15:00)
Sunday 29 May
West Canberra Wanderers v Gungahlin United (Melrose Synthetic, 12:45)
Canberra Olympic v Wagga City Wanderers (O’Connor Enclosed, 14:45)
Canberra United Academy v Canberra Croatia (Hawker Football Centre, 17:10)
|3||West Canberra Wanderers||7||5||0||2||-2||15|
|5||Canberra United Academy||6||2||0||4||-3||6|
|8||Wagga City Wanderers||7||0||0||7||-53||0|
Words: Jeremy Magan