Pippa Smyth went to the GWS Giants, 2016 best and fairest Lisa Steane relocated to Sydney for a crack at AFL Women’s while leading goal scorer Jesse Jakubowski heads a handful of key injuries.
But the Nelson Bay Marlins have still managed to find a way.
Approaching the Black Diamond AFL women’s round on Saturday, the Marlins are undefeated after the opening 12 weeks and share the competition lead with Newcastle City Stars.
Nelson Bay coach Russell Fox couldn’t be happier.
“We’ve probably exceeded all expectations so far,” Fox told the Newcastle Herald.
“A couple of our main girls from last year are in Sydney now, several players had career changes and we’ve got four or five out injured, but we’ve still managed to field a competitive side each week.”
Fox has been impressed with the showing of Marlins newcomer Molly Simpson, who comes from a hockey background, and experienced campaigners like Kate Holland and Hayley West.
Nelson Bay’s upcoming round-14 encounter with third-placed Newcastle City Novas (6pm) will be followed by a bye and a top-of-the-table clash against the Stars on July 28. Saturday will be part of a carnival-style event, celebrating 2018 women’s round, held at Tulkaba Park with eight back-to-back games starting from 10am.
“The girls really love the concept,” Fox said.
In a reduced round of men’s Black Diamond Cup five teams have the bye, leaving three fixtures on Saturday.
With only five weeks left until the play-offs Nelson Bay must beat third-placed Newcastle City at Dick Burwell Oval to keep their semi-final aspirations alive, Wyong Lakes host second-placed Terrigal Avoca at Don Small Oval while winless Lake Macquarie travel to Singleton to meet the fifth-placed Roosters at Rose Point Park.
Cardiff, Warners Bay, Gosford, Killarney Vale and Maitland have the weekend off.
Meanwhile, Cardiff’s player-points-system appeal has been dismissed after Black Diamond AFL opted to maintain its original ruling and go against a recent AFL NSW-ACT recommendation to increase the Hawks allocation by two to 40.