Friday, 15 March 2019

PREVIEW: New-FM Round 2 2019





Under 19's Match of the Round:
Cooks Hill United (1st) v New Lambton (2nd)
Kickoff: 11:00am

It's only Round 2 and already we're getting served up a 19's game on paper that could be one of the clashes of the season. Both of these teams were highly impressive in Round 1 albeit against lower-ranked opposition and now it leaves a tasty clash at the AthField on Saturday morning. Cooks Hill's defence were definitely not tested that hard against a young Thornton outfit and will have to step up here.

Where the Cookers shined last week and perhaps unexpectedly was in their attack. Despite missing Andrew "Buzz" Benbow they fired in seven goals, some of them high quality finishes and turned on the style against their helpless opponents. James Poslon was MOTM and was one of the few not to score but there were some notable finishes from Boaz Moir and Nic Crook that got the party started for the new-look CHU 19's.

New Lambton were super impressive in Round 1 as well with a 6-1 victory over Cessnock City. Granted the Hornets were depleted and hit by injury, it's still an indication of the attacking quality the Eagles have this season. Jack Clare scored on debut and was joined by ex 17's players Jayden Pryor and Angus Gow.

Perhaps more notable were some defenders joining in on the fun. Skipper Aidan Galvin with a double and Alex McConnell with a superb goal to compete with that scored by Clare for the best goal of the day. Thanks to the "Eagles Edge" wrap on the NLFC Facebook for giving some solid info to write this review on. A small weekly write-up is something all clubs should be doing. A good team although a big test to come.

Prediction: Both teams come into this on the back of a brilliant start to the season but think New Lambton might just get the wood on Saturday as their attack has a bit more bite to it and the defensive pairing of Aidan Galvin and Marcus Morris will be very tough to get past. Cooks Hill will improve as the year goes on as they are an exciting side but this one will be a tough one.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 1-3 New Lambton

The Inside Word: The wide fullback's for Cooks Hill will be busy dealing with the Eagles.

This Saturday will be a chance for Cooks Hill 19's to prove they're the real deal.

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Under 23's Match of the Round:
Cooks Hill United (3rd) v New Lambton (4th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

It's another big 23's clash at the AthField and this time it's the Grand Final rematch as the defending Champions Cooks Hill do battle with New Lambton. Not many if any would have expected a 4-0 result for the Cookers against Thornton last weekend and it truly was a game where they managed to take their chances well, something that at times cost them dearly in 2018.

It showed some of Cooks Hill's character and belief to overcome Thornton after a first half where they were indeed outplayed. Emerson Augey was able to score a double on the day which should help his confidence whilst their defence stood firm against last year's Premiers. With five more home games in a row before the bye, the 23's just like the rest of Cooks Hill will be looking to turn the AthField into a fortress.

New Lambton's year started well too with a comfortable 2-0 win over Cessnock City. Steve Koulis and Luke Homer were the goalscorers on the day whilst reports say that Dunnil Yohanes and the returning Jack Smith were impressive in the match. Newysports is expecting big things from the former this year with his sights no doubt set on potential time in 1st Grade.

Saturday will indeed be a tougher test for the Eagles and perhaps a mental test if anything as New Lambton have never beaten Cooks Hill 23's since entering the competition. This year is arguably the strongest the two sides have looked on paper so no doubt the visitors will see this game as a chance to really gauge where they're at as a team.

Prediction: Gone are the days of underwhelming 23's games everywhere you look. This game is an exciting prospect and a chance to see some of the quality depth coming through at both of these big inner-city clubs. As for the result, think Cooks Hill's got the better defence which might help guide them to victory.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 2-1 New Lambton

Dunnil Yohanes is one of the many exciting Eagles stars coming through the system.

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1st Grade:
Cooks Hill United (1st) v New Lambton (4th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

This game deserves to be talked up as a very intriguing encounter but it's not yet a clash of the heavyweights as New Lambton still have a lot to prove. Onto Cooks Hill first and the home side have a lengthy stay at the AthField as this is the second of six straight home games to start the season and there's little doubt that Graham Law will want his side to finish that period on 18 points.

Cooks Hill showed in their final trial with Kahibah and again last week against Thornton that they don't need to be all guns blazing from the opening whistle. They're a team that can grind it out and then turn around and grind the opposition into the ground. Marty Raines' injury is a slight disappointment given the excitement around his inclusion but this team is the team to beat and will show it most weeks.

New Lambton lost their first four matches to begin 2018 so this year's start is already a considerable improvement but as 2017 showed, it's about the whole season and not just Round 1. Their 1-0 win at Cessnock certainly didn't the world on fire and the squad still are a work in progress given the changes that they've made heading into the new season.

At this early stage of the season it's a tough ask for the squad to test themselves against the competition powerhouse but New Lambton are always up for a good challenge and it will indeed be interesting to see how they might set up to try and get something from the game. Five of their starting eleven were newcomers last weekend which highlights where they sit heading into Round 2.

Prediction: The Eagles at this stage are probably a level or two behind beating Cooks Hill but they'll look to impress and hopefully it will be a good match-up although the weather forecast isn't ideal. Cooks Hill have shown they are strong in the second half so that's probably where the score might stretch out if at all.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 4-1 New Lambton

The Inside Word: New Lambton to concede a couple late in the game.

Cooks Hill were able to take their chances against Thornton last weekend.

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Under 19's:
West Wallsend (=5th) v Thornton Redbacks (11th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

There was a lot of pre-season hype for the Bluebells and things started very well for them. They dominated early against Belswans, they scored, they were the benefactors of a very controversial sending off so hence they played over 70 minutes against ten men and still they were lucky to not lose it. Just unable to take their chances on a very difficult day.

Westy's defence has looked a little off without Bailey Cooper and it's not known how long he may be out for but in the attacking area they probably need a little bit of a confidence boost. This is a team that typically wins their home matches so no doubt there'll be a serious intent about them on Sunday as they look to go one better on last week.

Thornton are unfortunately the ideal opponent for a Westy team looking to get their scoring boots on and fill their confidence. The Redbacks looked a fair distance off where they'd like to be and with such a young squad it's likely that development will be their focus in 2019 rather than results, at least at this early point of the season.

Funny enough Thornton led 1-0 after about two minutes last weekend before things all fell apart. They'll need to focus on the fundamentals and look at the game as five or ten minute blocks rather than the entire match. It's not good mentally to concede seven goals on the opening day of the season but all they can do is work on the basics and look to improve.

Prediction: This game more than anything could show where West Wallsend's attack is at. That was a big question mark of the off-season and considering Cooks Hill scored seven last weekend, there's little doubt that some of the Westy players will be hoping for similiar success against the underdog Redbacks. A slip-up here would be a big confidence killer.

My Tip: West Wallsend 6-0 Thornton Redbacks

The Inside Word: Jed Conway to produce a one-man midfield masterclass.

Jed Conway was a standout last weekend in a 2-2 draw for the Bluebells.

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Under 23's:
West Wallsend (10th) v Thornton Redbacks (9th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

A lot was expected of these two sides to start the year but things did not go too well in Round 1 for either although one looks a little bit further ahead on the road to success. Starting with West Wallsend, they would put their hands up and admit that last week was nowhere near a reflection of what the Bluebells aim for in not just this grade but every grade.

Tactics didn't work, passing was poor and ball retention was at times non-existent as the Westy 23's lost 5-0 on home turf to a Belswans side that are still a work in progress themselves. The team need a confidence boost particularly in defence but it's going to be a tough outing against the current Premiers.

Thornton although going down 4-0 in Round 1 didn't look that far off the mark. In a similiar fashion to last season's Semi Final they just fell away with some errors and costly moments as Cooks Hill took their chances last weekend. Scott Winslade was understandably frustrated but no doubt the focus will be to put last week behind them.

The Redbacks did have a couple of guys out and also have newcomers coming into the team so it might take another few games until they're at their blitzing best. They're capable of winning most games on their day and with a bye next week they'll want to avoid the potential to fall upwards of nine points behind in the early race for top spot.

Prediction: Newysports watched nine goals get put past these two teams last weekend but it's not a true reflection of either. Still think Westy are behind the eight ball and will be beaten on Sunday. Thornton are too good a team to lose their first two games of the new season. Could be a tough day if Westy play like last week.

My Tip: West Wallsend 1-3 Thornton Redbacks

Sam Hurney and the Redbacks would have been frustrated with their result last weekend.

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1st Grade Match of the Round:
West Wallsend (=7th) v Thornton Redbacks (11th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

The last time these sides met it was for a place in the Grand Final but fast-forward seven months or so and now they're both keen to bounce back from what was an underwhelming start to the season for both. West Wallsend were just a little bit off last week in a scrappy match with Belswans and clearly missed some input up front, most notably their goalscoring threat Tye Jones.

The Bluebells will do a lot better with a lower temperature expected on the weekend (that's if rain doesn't wash the game out) as match fitness is still something they're working towards. Jones' return from suspension is very valuable but no doubt they'll look to tweak some of their movement on and off the ball across the park. It's got to be a bit better than what they produced at times last weekend.

As for Thornton, Round 1 was certainly a strange one. For a good half hour or so they looked like they might be able to pick up a rare AthField victory but Cooks Hill flexed their attacking muscle in the second half and pounced on some mistakes to see out a 4-0 victory. The scoreline didn't reflect the entire game and that would have disappointed Thornton.

Gary Wand's not a coach who'll be panicking after just one outing and this week will provide a chance to tweak some things and work on a full 90-minute gameplan. The Redbacks will have to be up for a battle because these games are generally quiet physical and the Semi Final will be still lingering in the mind of some players as the one that perhaps got away. Next week's bye adds a little bit more mental pressure too.

Prediction: These two sides will be there or thereabouts when the business end of the season arrives but as for this game it's hard to not see Thornton winning it if they can implement the game plan and style they showed against Cooks Hill in a solid first half last weekend. Some Semi Final revenge to throw some more pressure on the Bluebells.

My Tip: West Wallsend 2-3 Thornton Redbacks

The Inside Word: Jye MacKellar will be one to watch as he looks to kick start his year.

Brendan Slade's first game in charge didn't go as planned but hopes are high in 2019.

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Under 19's:
Cessnock City (10th) v Singleton Strikers (9th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Things did not start well for either of these teams in Round 1. Cessnock City were hindered by injuries and forced changes on a day where they lost 6-1 to New Lambton whilst Singleton were brushed aside 4-0 by Toronto-Awaba. A win here will definitely give some hope to either team and allow them to bounce back from last week's disappointment.

There's really not much else to say about it...both teams will want to win it.

Prediction: The Hornets look the tip here if they don't have to turn to the bench early on. Both teams are still definitely a work in progress but at Turner Park there'll be a feeling that Cessnock need to kickstart their campaign ahead of a string of tough games over the next three weeks before the bye.

My Tip: Cessnock City 2-0 Singleton Strikers

The Inside Word: Expecting the Strikers to fade in the second half.

Jacob Geddes and Singo 19's will be looking to bounce back from a tough loss.

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Under 23's:
Cessnock City (8th) v Singleton Strikers (11th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Cessnock's injury list has not helped their 23's as they look to build on what they achieved last season in a top four finish and a very strong run into the finals. Their opening round loss to New Lambton was certainly not what they were planning and now pressure is on to bounce back quickly against a side they really will fancy their chances against.

With Ben Priest playing 1st Grade and Brodie Williams still injured, there's definitely some excuses as to why the Hornets might be starting the year slower than what they were aiming to but put that aside, they'll be aiming to get back to winning ways at Turner Park because things will get tougher against the improving Stags next week and the defending Champs Cooks Hill the week after.

As for Singleton, last week was nothing short of a horror show as they went down 6-0 to Toronto-Awaba. It was not the start anyone was hoping for and its still yet to be known whether depth will be an issue once again at Howe Park. Their squad last week lacked experience and that might be something they need to address. Either way it needs to be better.

Prediction: The Hornets should be winning this one if they are to be a contender again in 2019. The 23's competition is normally fairly tight compared to the others but they won't want to lose back to back home games and have to play catch up. It's a bit tough with players out but they should have the quality.

My Tip: Cessnock City 2-0 Singleton Strikers

Cessnock like Singleton will be looking to bounce back after a Round 1 loss.

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1st Grade:
Cessnock City (=7th) v Singleton Strikers (=2nd)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

This game is considered by some to be a local derby and certainly it's been a long time between drinks since Cessnock last beat Singleton. According to our stats at Newysports March 2014 was the last time the Hornets won this match and since then they've gone winless in about eight games or so which is no doubt something they'll want to address come Sunday.

The Hornets have been hit by the injury bug and whilst they won't want to use it as an excuse, it is tough doing without the likes of Klaudon Ahmataj, Lachlan Hodgetts and Brodie Williams. Young attacker Ethan Garrington was thrown into the deep end last week and certainly their attack is still a little bit away from being at its best with some of those names out.

Singleton won their first match 4-2 and interestingly finished over the top of Toronto-Awaba. The Strikers' match fitness was always going to be a talking point given how they shaped their pre-season compared to other clubs and after one round it's safe to say things look alright with Singo sitting firm in 2nd place but obviously it's still very early days.

Jake Barner slotted into the team last week and played his part well whilst Joe Civello took the glory on the day with a hat-trick that shot him to the outright lead of the Golden Boot race which he would no doubt have an eye on if he can stay fit and keep banging them in. An area of improvement on last week will likely be starting the game well and not leaving it until the second half to take control of the scoreboard.

Prediction: The Hornets still  just look a little off where they need to be. It's going to take time especially when you factor in the injury crisis they are going through. Singleton are a solid side and could really show it here if they get going. With a trip to the AthField coming next week, six points from two starts would be more than ideal.

My Tip: Cessnock City 0-4 Singleton Strikers

The Inside Word: Joe Civello to score a couple and keep his tally ticking over.

Brad York will be aiming for a victory with the 1st Grade team and his 19's outfit.

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Under 19's:
Toronto-Awaba (3rd) v South Cardiff (4th)
Kickoff: 11:15am

For as good as the Cooks Hill v New Lambton match looks on paper, this could be just as interesting as two winners from Round 1 meet at Lyall Peacock Field. Toronto will be put to the test after a fairly routine outing against Singleton. The team have kept a few players from their finals team last year and are looking to continue their positive form in 2019.

Tom Appleby's size makes him a threat in any game and he was able to score twice last weekend along with Andrew Clempson and Arbi Watt. There was a late pre-season personnel change with quality goalkeeper Josh Masters heading to Edgeworth NPL and being replaced by Jacob Gallagher. Equally as commanding in the penalty box and hopefully just as reliable but time will of course tell.

Their opponents Southy are one of the teams to watch in 19's this season as they've toiled about fairly under the radar throughout pre-season and were able to stage a 3-2 win over Wallsend in the opening round. New coach Aidan Paintner was an observer at the Cooks Hill v Thornton match last week and looks to be a coach who may plan his side to counteract other's strengths and weaknesses.

Goalscorers last week apart from a Wallsend own goal included Ned Twelvetree who looks a handy player and Roan Panther who of course was part of the Westy side that won the 17's Grand Final. Defensively they will be tested again and obviously it's very early days but both teams would be delighted with six points from two starts after Sunday.

Prediction: This like the CHU v NL game is a tough one to call. Toronto weren't really tested last week in an easy outing whilst Southy are still not exactly a well-known outfit. Newysports may be heading out to watch this before the Wallsend v Kahibah games to get a gauge on where the two sides sit. Going the draw.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 2-2 South Cardiff

The Inside Word: Appleby's size and power will be the key for Toronto.

Tom Appleby's double helped the Stags record an opening round 4-0 victory.

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Under 23's:
Toronto-Awaba (1st) v South Cardiff (7th)
Kickoff: 1:00pm

It's a bit different seeing Toronto 23's on top of the table after three wooden spoons and a horrendous run of form over the past few years but alas they sit atop the pile after the opening round. Granted they had it very easy against Singleton as the Stags scored goals for fun. 6-0 the final score on a day and their biggest reserve grade win in five long years.

Not much more needs to be said about last week due to the fact that it wasn't exactly against the best team going and the Stags will know that they've got to get on with the job and start building consistency. Their strong suit is the depth they have at the club this year and it's good to see after some lean spells without many troops on deck.

Speaking of depth, Southy are potentially the largest senior squad in the league with competition for spots at a high compared to other clubs where you're practically handed a shirt because you actually showed up. That sort of mentality is how a team builds towards a push for NPL and it is a serious strategy that the Gunners hope will pay off.

Newysports caught the last bit of the game v Wallsend and it was unlucky that the Gunners went down due to a late penalty. It seemed to be an even affair for the most part and it's a fairly talented although slightly young side that Steve Blunt has at his disposal. The gaffer returns to Toronto and will be hoping to get the best of his former side on Sunday.

Prediction: It's exciting to see Toronto doing well but it's very early days and the test for them this weekend will be to back up their Round 1 display. Southy are a decent side and will be hoping to bounce back from their loss so it's another fairly tough game to call. Think the Stags might just edge this one.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 2-1 South Cardiff

The Inside Word: Potential clash of Gibbo v Alex Evans should create some headlines.

Drew Olsen will likely expect a tougher outing against a decent Southy outfit.

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1st Grade:
Toronto-Awaba (=9th) v South Cardiff (=2nd)
Kickoff: 2:45pm

There's little doubt that this game is a serious early season test for any side let alone one that has completely rebuilt their squad in the off-season. Toronto's first encounter under Darrel McAllister was going well until the Stags fell apart late and the Singleton Strikers finished on top of them. Match fitness and playing the full 90 minutes is always a tough ask in the early weeks.

One big positive last week for Toronto was that they found the back of the net twice through Nathan McAllister and Nick Roberts. Both of those players will be crucial to their goal tally and to the Stags' defence it's only Roberts who remains in their first-choice squad from last year. Keep an eye out for the two Jarrod's in Purcell and Penfold. Decent combination there.

Southy for the first half of their game last weekend looked a million bucks. The Gunners fell behind early to a shock goal but cruised to a half-time 4-1 lead that really could and should have been more. The speed and vision shown to hit the attack button faster than the Wallsend defence could blink was quiet something.

But for all the good about Southy in Round 1, the second half was a bit underwhelming. You can't expect them to go 100 miles an hour for the entire game but it was worrying how Wallsend almost found a way to get back into the game. Denis Fajkovic will return from suspension and will more than likely slot right into the squad. A pretty decent name to have coming back in after winning the first game of the year.

Prediction: You can't expect overnight success at Toronto given the amount of changes they've endured and Darrel McAllister is a coach that likes to gel his squad over time. They'll get better but it's a big ask to overcome the impressive Gunners outfit this early in the season. Southy should be winning it with their quality attack.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 1-4 South Cardiff

These sort of scenes may be a regular occurrence in 2019 for the Gunners.

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Under 19's:
Wallsend FC (8th) v Kahibah FC (7th)
Kickoff: 3:15pm

Last weekend was not the start Wallsend 19's were looking for and ultimately it was another case of what could have been as they went down 3-2 to South Cardiff in tough circumstances, including an own goal. Coach Craig Tselembis has truly seen every negative scenario possible over the last few years so will know what to say to try and get the team to bounce back.

The returning Sam Willis scored in their Round 1 clash and so did promising attacker Ben Schieb. Last year it took four attempts for the Red Devils to win at The Gardens but this new-look outfit will be hoping to build their home form and use that to climb the table in 2019. They'll partly know what to expect too after meeting Kahibah in pre-season.

Turning attention to the Rams who are in action for the first time in 2019 after their Round 1 bye, they too are a new-look side. It's a largely changed squad from the side that swept all before them and claimed the Premiership in convincing fashion. Therefore it is a bit of a mystery as to how things might go this season.

New coach Jason Zechel will see this season as his chance to prove he can guide a team to reasonable success after a low finish with Cessnock in 2018. His troops are better at Kahibah but questions will be asked over their defence which has undergone massive changes and their attack which hasn't exactly fired yet during the pre-season games Newysports was able to watch.

Prediction: The Rams were able to knock off Wallsend in the pre-season but of course that doesn't mean much given the season has now kicked off. There's still some question marks on both teams so it's tough to pick a winner. This could very well end in a stalemate as the two sides continue to patch together their puzzle for 2019.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 1-1 Kahibah FC

Sam Willis was a goalscorer for the Red Devils last weekend.

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Under 23's:
Wallsend FC (5th) v Kahibah FC (6th)
Kickoff: 5:00pm

This is a game between two sides who are aiming for success in the U23's grade in 2019 and have potential to achieve that. Wallsend won their first match of the year in the Gallagher Shield clash with Southy but certainly left things late with a penalty to Lucas Egge sealing a nervy 1-0 win away from home. Three points is better than one and that's important heading into their first home match.

The Red Devils' lineup was a bit of a mystery heading into Round 1 but overall have a slightly younger 23's squad than last year but still with some key more experience players like Cody Simpson and Zac Parkes to lead them around. Watch for newcomer Tendai Chivizhe who can be quiet exciting to watch on his day.

On the other side of the pitch will be Kahibah FC and it's a side that sees a few promoted players from the Premiership-winning Under 19's side. Isaac True, Kye Condon and Kallum Garbett are just some of the names who could feature whilst Cameron Wamsley is a very good addition to the attack. Goalkeeper Blake Gates returns to the club where he played 17's a couple of years ago.

New coach Mitch Gorsuch takes over the reigns and after his brother Jarrod departed in pre-season it leaves Mitch with a chance to prove himself as a coach and work more with Andre Gumprecht and the Senior Squad. Speaking of Gumps, it's likely he'll be a feature in the 23's side this year as an experienced leader. Kahibah 23's are always tipped for a strong year but they always find a way to fall short, perhaps 2019 is their time?

Prediction: The Kahibah attack probably looks a little bit better on paper but their youngish side are untested and considering it's their first match it will be tough for them. First thought was a Kahibah win though so going to stick with it.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 1-2 Kahibah FC

The Inside Word: Cameron Wamsley to score on his competitive debut for Kahibah.

Isaac True is one of the faces that have come up from the 19's Premiership squad.

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1st Grade:
Wallsend FC (=9th) v Kahibah FC (6th)
Kickoff: 6:45pm

This week's late fixture is a lesser clash than the Gallagher Shield that lit up Ulinga Oval last Sunday but it's still a very interesting encounter and again involves Wallsend. The Red Devils were nothing short of embarrassed in a first half display where pretty much everything that could have gone wrong did, despite them scoring in the first minute.

Normality was restored in the second half and the scoreline kept respectable as Wallsend went down 4-2 to their rivals from Southy. With a week to think about it, it'll sure be intriguing to see how Jesse Pryce gets the team to react. They'll know their weaknesses after last weekend and can address and structure their gameplan to avoid those.

Kahibah are coming off the back of their third consecutive first round bye and ultimately it's given them an extra week to get their gameplan sorted and there'll definitely be some changes from what was a very underwhelming year from the Rams in 2018. Some key experience has left and there'll be some reliance on youth coming through but that's the ideology that could work best with how Andre Gumprecht wants the team to play.

What Kahibah seemingly have this year is a group of senior players who are all keen to put their hand up and push for success. This season perhaps more than any other will test Gumprecht as a coach because he's seemingly stepping down from his regular 1st Grade playing spot and focusing on bringing through the next generation. Together with Mat Moncrieff, they are the longest-serving coaches in the league.

Prediction: Wallsend's first half display last week harked back to when Kahibah last played at The Gardens. The pressure is on for the Red Devils with games against Belswans and Thornton to come. It's a tough one to call given what happened last week but think Kahibah might just upset the apple cart so to speak.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 1-2 Kahibah FC

The Inside Word: Kahibah's aerial defence will be tested.

It was a tough old day for the Wallsend defence at Ulinga Oval.

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YOUTH GAME(s) OF THE WEEK: Two sets of games promise to be very interesting. Toronto-Awaba have impressed in pre-season and as a collective are improving rapidly in the youth. They'll test themselves against another ambitious youth club in South Cardiff. Then two established youth set-ups meet as Cooks Hill hosts New Lambton.

One other game to keep an eye on is the 15's clash between defending 14's Champions Wallsend and Kahibah who are tipped by a club insider to be the Rams' best side this year.



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