The competition?s top four teams will be duelling in matches that are sure to supply plenty of thrills and spills. All four teams will be looking to build the psychological advantage as the run towards the semi finals commences.
There will need to be plenty of band aids and stretcher bearers on hand at Lynwood Park on Sunday when the two most physical sides in the league, Macarthur Rams and Manly United FC come to grips. Neither of these teams gives an inch. I?m sure that the tackles will be hard (but fair, of course!) with no prisoners being taken.
Apart from their renowned tough side these two teams also play some damn good football. It would be no surprise if either of them ended up with premiership honours at the end of the season. The respective coaches have very talented squads to work with. There?s former Young Matildas, Matildas, young guns with plenty to prove; its little wonder that these two teams are such genuine contenders.
Macarthur have had some injury woes but these are starting to ease. Manly have had to work through a series of washout games, which crowded their schedule. A win on Sunday holds plenty of importance for both sides in the run to the finals.
Macarthur are a strong, determined side. I enjoy watching them play. That said, I?m going to do them a favour and tip Manly to win this one. I haven?t seen the Manly girls play so far this season but the reports I?m getting about them are all positive. I really think they?re the ?dark horse? of the competition.
The second super game of the weekend sees the competition leaders, NWS Koalas, host the Marconi Stallions at ELS Hall Park. The Koalas hold a narrow one point edge on the ladder, albeit with a game in hand; an advantage that they?ll be keen to maintain. The Koalas survived a visit to Cromer Park last week after a Danielle Calvi equaliser secured them a draw with Manly United. The girls have had a season with few hiccups. They?ve been playing with plenty of confidence and their first round win over The Stallions at Marconi Stadium will buoy them for this game.
The Stallions were very impressive last weekend against a disappointing Sutherland Sharks side. They were enterprising in attack, dominated possession and the final scoreline probably flattered their opponents. Marconi will need to ensure they take their chances against The Koalas as those chances won?t be as readily available as last Sunday. The Stallions have been a little up and down this season but I?d think they?d have plenty of motivation for a big performance on Sunday.
The Koalas have lots of strike power through Cavanagh, Hawkins, Mclean and Calvi. The Stallions don?t lack for attacking weapons themselves with Camilleri, Perfilio and the youngster Sam Muscat all ready to lead the charge for Marconi. This looms as a thriller.
The Koalas 1-0 for mine but this one could go either way.
Penrith Nepean take the long trip to Harrie Dening Centre to meet the hapless Sutherland Sharks. The Sharks players looked totally demoralised at the end of last week?s game with Marconi, a match that probably produced their most disappointing display of the season. With a run of eleven straight losses the Sutherland girls are really struggling to remain motivated. Coach Michael Michael will need to look deep into his bag of tricks to see if he can get his girls back on their feet in the coming weeks. There?s not a lack of talent in the side but it?s just not happening for The Sharks in 2008.
Penrith continue to hover around semi final contention. Yes, they?ve dropped a few points off fourth spot but they do have two games in hand. Taryn Rockall has done a great job of steering her girls around the park. Her team has responded with some sound performances after a slow start to the season. I?ve only seen Penrith play once, against Rams earlier in the season, and was impressed with what I saw. If they?re serious about being semi final contenders this is a game that they must win handsomely.
I don?t like putting the boot into one of my favourite teams but I suspect that The Sharks will struggle in this one. Penrith by four.
The final match of the round brings us a clash between Central Coast Lightning and Sydney University.
Their first round meeting brought Sydney University their first win of 2008. They will be keen to distance themselves further from the wooden spoon position. Given their most recent performances they?d be within their rights to have a confident view of their chances in this game.
Central Coast would be hoping to lift themselves off the bottom of the ladder. A win here, coupled with defeat for Sutherland elsewhere, would take Lightning above The Sharks. Yes, a few ifs and buts but in their current position the Central Coast youngsters will clutch at any motivation they can.
This looks as if it will be a close one. On form I?ve got to go for Sydney University by the narrowest of margins.
No, there are no Socceroos games on this weekend. The Euro Final is not until Monday morning. If you think you?re starved for a football fix I have the remedy. Get out to an Arrive Alive NSW Women?s Premier League game this weekend. It?ll change your view of women?s football. These girls are serious footballers who have plenty of skill to show off for all football fans. Even the football mags and newspapers will wake up to that fact eventually!
-By Ross Anderson