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The race for third place

Auckland 0, WaiBOP 0
William Green Domain, Auckland, October 26 2015

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What does one say about a 0-0 draw? The dreaded score line that those who don’t have the grey matter to appreciate the intricacies of the beautiful game so often mock?

What you usually say to them is “get lost, rugbyhead!!” Because a 0-0 draw can be a thing of awesome beauty. In almost any sport you can name, games don’t need lots of ‘points’ to be wonderful contests. The greatest rugby league grand finals of all time took place in the 1970s and have scores like 6-4. The New Zealand vs Australia pool game at the recent cricket world cup was a low scoring classic. As was the 2011 Rugby World Cup final when New Zealand won 8-7 (so I’m told).

Sometimes, there’s no two ways about it, a 0-0 draw can be a little tough to watch. But there’s always something to hold your interest and this game was no exception.

Part of its intrigue was that this was a battle to hold third spot outright in a competition in which only the top three make the semi-finals. And right up until the end this game always had the potential to see someone snatch that big advantage. It ebbed and flowed with both sides able to claim they held the upper hand at various times but there were a few real standout themes I thought.

One was the pace of Paige Satchell down the right wing in the first half and then the left in the second. I’ve banged on about her speed before but it never ceases to blow me away just like she blew away from her markers on numerous occasions yesterday! Unfortunately though, WaiBOP just lacked that final flourish in the Auckland penalty area to turn their opportunities into goals.

Another theme in WaiBOP’s favour was the defending of Kate Carlton and Eileish Hayes, the former especially, who managed some superb interventions to keep the scores locked. Auckland has a very handy side on paper with Football Fern bookends at both extremities of their formation in Rebecca Rolls in goal and Jasmine Pereira up front with young talent aplenty in between but they couldn’t seem to break down that WaiBOP defensive combination and get close enough often enough to Ashleigh McNaughton’s goal to raise a serious threat.

In other results around the traps, both the young ‘uns and Northern got tough workouts but eventually prevailed against the competition’s two perennial strugglers. With South leading Development 1-0 and Northern being held 1-1 by Central at one point when I checked Twitter, it looked like expectations were in for a real shake-up! But the favourites in each case eventually prevailed 6-1 and 3-1 respectively to ensure the pigeons were safe from the cat for the time being at least. In Wellington, Mainland Pride dispatched Capital 2-0 to maintain their perfect record.

Next week it’s double header time again in Auckland with North Harbour Stadium’s outer oval hosting Development v Central at 1pm and Northern v Capital at 4pm. Meanwhile Mainland and South host Auckland and WaiBOP respectively.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN???

Well, with the half way mark in the round robin upon us next week, there’s a gap opening up between second and third that probably won’t be bridged. I’d say pencil Northern and Mainland into the semi-finals now. Hosting rights for the final will probably be decided when the Cantabrians host their rivals on November 15th. As for that third spot, check out Development on the rise. They are up to 5th after that comfortable (in the end) win in Palmerston North and only two points separate them from the prize… Look out, here come the whipper snappers!

Categories: NZ Women's National League

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: https://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/

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