West Leagues Balance 1 will welcome the return of pivotal shooter Maddie Taylor on Saturday when they take on BNC Whanau after an opening-round "wake-up call" in the Newcastle open netball championship.
The back-to-back defending champions sustained a two-goal loss to Forsythes Business Advisors last weekend and Wests coach Tracey Baggs said a strong start against BNC Whanau would be crucial on Saturday.
"BNC got beaten quite convincingly last week but they're a class team when they have everyone and we can't take them lightly," Baggs said.
Forsythes take on Maryville Tavern, who produced an eight-goal victory over Nova. Maryville player-coach Rachel Gardner was bracing for "a particularly challenging match".
She has five players out, including defender Maddie Mueller and goal attacks Kate Jenkins and Hayley Mackay, through injury and unavailability.
"They're obviously playing really well to beat Wests and I expect them to be one of the front-runners for the season, so it was always going to be a tough match and the task has been made harder with players out," Gardner said.
Nova Queens Wharf play Wests 2 and Junction Hotel meet Souths. Games are at National Park netball courts.