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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Meaghan’s Blues on the ball in 2021

The Newcastle City Blues Black Diamond Cup women’s side is eyeing off a trifecta of AFL Hunter Central Coast titles in 2021, however there’s no pressure on the talented line-up to succeed.

That’s according to inspirational skipper Meaghan MacDonald.

The 2019-2020 champions have started the season in scintillating fashion, even accounting for arch-rivals Killarney Vale Bombers in a replay of last year’s decider at the weekend.

But, the captain realises there’s more than just a victory or two at stake.

“We know winning a flag is always the ultimate goal for the club,” MacDonald said.

“And, we want to do that for Newcastle City.

“However, it’s not everything – it’s not at the expense of the girls going out and having fun every week.

“That’s our main priority.

“If that results in a win, it’s a bonus.

“That’s the exciting thing [in 2021], seeing the development of some of the younger girls this season as opposed to previous years.

“We’ve got four or five juniors who have come up through the ranks.

“They’re now qualified for the seniors, being too old for the under-17s.

“So, it feels like it’s the first season we’ve had that solid transition.

“They’ve brought a new kind of enthusiasm and spark to the team.”

The Blues, coached by Jon Clark, knocked over the Bombers 6.6-42 to 3.7-25 in the 2020 grand final to claim their second successive crown.

Those opponents, as well as the Cardiff Hawks, appear to be the biggest dangers to Newcastle City’s quest in 2021, too.

“Straight off the bat it’s been super competitive,” MacDonald said.

“It definitely feels a lot more spirited than previous years.

“I think that’s because, for the first time, we’ve got the two different divisions as well as a full-length season.

“In 2020, we had a couple of grades but it was a shortened comp, due to COVID-19.

“So, it seems like the other clubs have bigger numbers (in the Black Diamond Cup); and they might have more girls to choose from.

“But, the sides are definitely better.

“Killarney Vale will be very strong again [in 2021] while I believe Cardiff is probably the ‘dark horse’.”

The Bombers put the Blues to the test in round three, before the defending premiers prevailed by the barest of margins, 5.3-33 to 4.3-27.

“We just got up by one goal,” MacDonald told the Newcastle Weekly.

“So, it was good to witness we could – when we’re faced with good competition – step it up when needed.

“In a lot of games, we’ve enjoyed big wins and, equally, big margins.

“And, that’s nice – we can move the ball around quite smoothly [on those occasions] and dictate the play.

“However, Killarney Vale came out firing.

“They kicked the opening goal.

“So, it was great to see the girls not drop their heads, show some resilience and push through those tough first two quarters.

“We kept reminding ourselves of our style of play and pulled back towards that.”

The Blues’ next hurdle, the Warners Bay Bulldogs, will take place at Feighan Oval on Saturday 1 May.

“That will be an interesting match to see where they’re sitting this year,” MacDonald said.

“I think they may have lost a couple of girls.

“So, it might be a chance for our new developing players to have a bit of a run as well.”

AFL Hunter Central Coast Seniors

2021 Black Diamond Cup Men’s

Round three results:

Singleton Roosters d Nelson Bay Marlins 19.10-124 to 3.6-24

Newcastle City Blues d Gosford Tigers 14.18-102 to 7.5-47

Terrigal Avoca Panthers d Maitland Saints 31.22-208 to 1.0-6

Warners Bay Bulldogs d Cardiff Hawks 12.11-83 to 9.5-59

Bye: Killarney Vale Bombers

Round four draw:

(Saturday 1 May)

2pm: Killarney Vale Bombers v Cardiff Hawks (Adelaide Street Oval)

2pm: Warners Bay Bulldogs v Newcastle City Blues (Feighan Oval)

2pm: Terrigal Avoca Panthers v Gosford Tigers (Hylton Moore Oval)

2pm: Maitland Saints v Singleton Roosters (Max McMahon Oval)

Bye: Nelson Bay Marlins

2021 Black Diamond Cup Women’s

Round three results:

Wyong Lakes Magpies d Lake Macquarie Dockers 7.11-53 to 0.2-2

Newcastle City Blues d Killarney Vale Bombers 5.3-33 to 4.3-27

Terrigal Avoca Panthers d Maitland Saints 12.20-92 to 0.0-0

Cardiff Hawks d Warners Bay Bulldogs 11.9-75 to 0.1-1

Round four draw:

(Saturday 1 May)

Noon: Killarney Vale Bombers v Cardiff Hawks (Adelaide Street Oval)

Noon: Warners Bay Bulldogs v Newcastle City Blues (Feighan Oval)

Noon: Maitland Saints v Wyong Lakes Magpies (Max McMahon Oval)

Bye: Lake Macquarie Dockers

Bye: Terrigal Avoca Panthers

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