MAITLAND are hoping the return of three key players will help them end Gosford’s unbeaten run in the Hunter Coast Premier League on Sunday.
The midday hit-off on the Central Coast will be the third encounter between the two sides this season. The last time they played Maitland went down in a close 2-1 battle, a far more competitive result than round one’s loss, a 6-3 goal fest.
Ben Urquhart, Matt Magann and Brendon Crouch will all return from injury in a timely boost for the Rams and coach Glen Stolk believes they will need to be at their best on the Coast.
“It’s extremely tough against Gosford at a venue we do not perform well on,” he said.
“However, we’ve got a lot of confidence from the last month while those key players have been missing.”
University will be looking to recover from last week’s heavy defeat to Gosford and will welcome back around seven players when they take on Souths at midday.
Souths will be without NSW under-21 representative Ehren Hazel, who was set to play in the National Championships grand final on Friday afternoon against Queensland in Wollongong, but welcome back Lucas Motum. They will be hoping to fight their way back into the all-important top-two spots on the ladder with just seven games left to play before the finals.
Finally, Norths’ Rory Walker returns after his stint with the ACT – who were knocked out early at the under-21 National Championships – to help his side face Wests, but they will be without Ollie Flack, James Piper and Nick Hill.
The depleted line-up means Wests could have a good chance of keeping in touch with the top four should they topple Norths.
Meanwhile, former Newcastle Norths defender Matt Dawson helped the Kookaburras secure a 2-nil win over Spain at the World League Semi-Finals on Thursday in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The game was scoreless with seven minutes remaining before the Kookaburras' Dylan Wotherspoon broke the deadlock by flicking in a Jeremy Hayward pass in Johannesburg on Thursday.
Trent Mitton sealed the Australian victory by finding the net with less than a minute to go.
Coach Colin Batch wasn't worried by the world No.2 Kookaburras coming dangerously close to failing to take all three group-stage points.
They are the only undefeated team in pool A after beating France two days earlier. "It was really good progress for us from game one to game two," Batch said.
"We knew we were below our level in our first match so to step up in game two against a really good Spanish team was great progress in showing what we're capable of."
Australia next play top-ranked New Zealand, who were held to a shock 3-3 draw by France, then Japan to complete the group stage before a possible quarter-finals berth.