Just three points separated the Newcastle City Novas and Warners Bay at Feighan Park, with Kate Handley’s double – including one major late in the fourth quarter – proving the difference.
Despite injuries running rife through the Novas squad, the third-placed team managed to keep just two wins behind league-leaders Nelson Bay and their sister team the Stars.
It was almost the club’s third loss of the season however, as Warners Bay carried a four point lead into the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs opened the scoring through Leesa Wholohan, before Handley and Erin White answered back in the second quarter, handing the Novas a 13-10 lead at the half-time break.
Tracy Baker, who would go on to be named among the home team’s best, kicked the Bulldogs’ second to give them the go-ahead once more, but an eventual eight-behind haul for Warners Bay proved costly as Handley slotted the late winner.
The defeat leaves Warners Bay contesting the eighth and ninth positions with Singleton, and sees them slip a single win outside a crucial top seven finish.
Elsewhere on the weekend, City struck again through the Stars, as they contested a tight match against Gosford at No.1 Sportsground.
The Tigers kept the Stars below 50-points across four quarters, but it wasn’t enough as the undefeated ladies in blue trotted to a 6.12.48 to 4.5.29 victory, helped along by two majors for Kyla Brogmus and Sarah Halvorsen. Gosford’s Ange Jones also scored two.
Lake Macquarie also celebrated their second victory of the season, and their biggest score to date, downing Port Stephens 19.7.121 to 2.2.14.
Holly Kozlik and Carla Hill were identified as the lynch-pins of the 107-point win, collecting more than 75 touches between them, while Emma-Jayne Howe kicked six. Brianna Trappett added four of her own.
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Cardiff moved within striking distance of the top seven with a 5.11.41 to 2.2.14 win over Singleton. The Roosterettes will be desperate to right the ship in coming weeks, as their recorded stretches to five defeats in the last six matches.
Tori Cowburn kicked the only two goals for Singleton, while an early and a late major for the Hawks’ forward Eva Bailey was key to their eventual 27-point win.
Maitland kept hold of seventh place with a 6.10.46 to 2.1.13 win over Terrigal Avoca, with Felicity Millen kicking two, while Muswellbrook fell to Killarney Vale by 104 points at Adelaide St Oval, 14.20.104 to 0.0.0.
Tonicah Eslick was the commanding kicker for the Bombers, notching five for the top four squad, while Georgia Butler added a hat-trick of her own.
Despite the absence of key forward Jesse Jakubowski – who was leading the league’s goal-kicking tallies for a time – the Marlins marched to a 14.26.110 to 1.0.6 win over Wallsend-West Newcastle at Dick Burwell Oval.
Jemma Astley stepped up in Jakubowski’s absence, slotting four, while Kaitlyn Douglass continued her strong form with three more. Lauren Gruber kicked the Swans’ only goal.
Finally, Wyong Lakes celebrated captain Emily Bohan’s 150th game across the junior and senior competitions in style, as they charged to a 30.20.200 to 0.0.0 victory over The Entrance Bateau Bay.
Bohan herself kicked ten to mark the special occasion, while Alexandra Pearce added eight and Sarah Ball kicked five.
TABLE: Nelson Bay, Stars (48), Novas, Killarney Vale (40), Wyong Lakes (36), Gosford, Maitland (28), Singleton, Warners Bay (24), Cardiff (20), Terrigal Avoca (16), Muswellbrook (12), Lake Macquarie (8), Port Stephens, The Entrance Bateau Bay, Wallsend-West Newcastle (4).