SECOND SEMI FINAL – Terrigal Avoca vs. Newcastle City
(2:30pm at Adelaide Street Oval)

You should never cast the spotlight on an individual player ahead of a team’s finals series however Adam Miller would have to be an exception in season 2023. The talented utility can play in the ruck, midfield and forward and would be a worthy inclusion into the Panthers’ premiership player dynasty. However they still must get the runs on the board across four quarters if they are to advance to a 12th successive grand final.

Newcastle City escaped a fast-finishing Cardiff outfit at Max McMahon Oval on Saturday to cling onto the double chance. The season ending injury to Jacob Findlay leaves a void in the Blues’ backline which will be hard to cover.

Though I’m not certain this will be the grand final preview I predict we will see several lead changes prior to the main break in this clash.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Mitchell Crawford (Newcastle City). Continued to impress onlookers with a four-goal haul on Saturday, bringing his season tally to 49.

LAST TIME THEY MET: Round 12, 2023. Newcastle City 9.12 (66) defeated by Terrigal Avoca 11.7 (73) at No.1 Sportsground.

FINAL PREDICTION: Terrigal Avoca by 36.

FIRST SEMI FINAL – Cardiff vs. Killarney Vale
(2:50pm at No.1 Sportsground)

Can either of these sides make the grand final? To do so, one will need to make a big statement on the other in the opening quarter of this Saturday’s blockbuster match-up.

Killarney Vale ball winners Damien Hector, Lachlan Waters and Luke Flack proved instrumental in their 63-point win over Maitland and Brendan Lewis answered our pre-game call for a game-changing performance through his five-goal haul. However the club’s hopes of back-to-back senior premierships for the first time since 1998 have been dampened by the season ending injury of Joshua Mifsud (PCL).

On the other hand, Cardiff’s inclusion of Blayne Chandler and Joe Harris may only just be enough to cover sidelined stars Tahi Brain and Callum Spoor. A defeat will see the Hawks’ premiership drought extended for an 18th season.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Troy Denholm (Cardiff). The tall Tasmanian has proven to be a talent in his first year of senior footy.

LAST TIME THEY MET: Round 14, 2023. Cardiff 13.15 (93) defeated Killarney Vale 6.4 (40) at Pasterfield Sports Complex.

FINAL PREDICTION: Cardiff by 12 points.


QUALIFYING FINAL – Killarney Vale vs. Newcastle City
(12:30pm at Adelaide Street Oval)

After two close head-to-head clashes the Bombers stamped their authority on their archrival in third meeting this year to capture an impressive 29-point victory at home. Ruck Eliza Hand provided second efforts throughout the field, teenagers Mia Wilson and Brooke Turner combined for five goals and the defenders denied countless opportunities for the visitors’ three leading goal-kickers. However the Bombers’ 15-0 home and away record will mean nothing unless they can secure the first spot in the big dance with a convincing win this Saturday.

Newcastle City has proven to be the finals’ specialists throughout the short history of our women’s competition. Each September they prove that a team of champions can never beat a champion team and, like Killarney Vale, find themselves eight quarters away from a premiership. Impossible to pick a winner, I’m flipping a coin on this occasion.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Caitlin Holcombe (Newcastle City). A well respected ball winner in the top tier competition.

LAST TIME THEY MET: Round 17, 2023. Killarney Vale 7.3 (45) defeated Newcastle City 2.4 (16) at Adelaide Street Oval.

FINAL PREDICTION: The coin said heads. Newcastle City by 1.

ELIMINATION FINAL – Terrigal Avoca vs. Cardiff
(10:20am at Adelaide Street Oval)

The same four sides have made the Black Diamond Women’s Cup finals series for a second straight year however it is a different narrative this time around. The Panthers have climbed to third spot on the ladder and appear much more determined to make a preliminary final under coach Joel Patterson. Despite a new look lineup Cardiff have defied their critics to remain in premiership contention. So who wins?

The Panthers have the fitness. The Hawks have the endurance. The Panthers have the momentum. The Hawks have the skillset. The Panthers have women with finals experience. The Hawks have a factory of premiership juniors coming in. The Panthers have the Central Coast home crowd. The Hawks have the 2-0 head-to-head record.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Sydney Boonstra (Terrigal Avoca) was named as her side’s best in the previous meeting with the Hawks.

LAST TIME THEY MET: Round 15, 2023. Terrigal Avoca 3.3 (21) defeated by Cardiff 4.3 (27) at Hylton Moore Oval.

FINAL PREDICTION: Terrigal Avoca by 18 points.


QUALIFYING FINAL – Newcastle City vs. Terrigal Avoca
(12:50pm at No.1 Sportsground)

Our 2020 Black Diamond Men’s Plate grand final replay always results in a great game of footy. After defeats to the Panthers and the Marlins on the big stage, it is now time for Newcastle City to go all of the way through the experience of playing coach Joseph Miller and returning veteran Luke Rawnsley.

Terrigal Avoca’s defenders must be on the front foot to shut down the home side’s forwards in Cam Keast, Reuben Miller, Jared Matson and Tom Hanley. Even Kieren Nairn Kassulke starred with an eight goal haul in the side’s recent 91-point win over the Magpies.

The Panthers will have the height though it is still hard to go past the minor premier. 

PLAYER TO WATCH: Connor Bavage (Newcastle City) has been the barometer for the minor premier. The Old Carey recruit inspired his former teammate Matt Rowell on his journey to the Gold Coast Suns’ AFL list and beyond.

LAST TIME THEY MET: Round 17, 2023. Newcastle City 7.6 (48) Terrigal Avoca 4.7 (31) at No.1 Sportsground.

FINAL PREDICTION: Newcastle City by 30.

ELIMINATION FINAL – Wyong vs. Killarney Vale
(8:30am at Adelaide Street Oval)

With a home advantage and a ruthless brand of footy, Killarney Vale’s midfield must dominate early if they are any chance of scalping an upset win against the Magpies.

The Magpies welcome back ruckman Brayden Tos from a finger injury while Lee Moore continues to dominate in the middle. Sidelined club legend Chris Koop-Folkes will be an obvious loss for the favourite yet they will still have fire power through reliable centre half forward Callum Rainger.

Ultimately, hard to tip against the Magpies considering they celebrated a 29.11 (185) to 1.2 (8) victory at the ground earlier in the season.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Kai McIntosh-Walsh (Wyong) always provides confidence down back.

LAST TIME THEY MET: Round 17, 2023. Killarney Vale 6.4 (40) defeated by Wyong 13.10 (88) at Adelaide Street Oval.

FINAL PREDICTION: Wyong by 50 points.


SECOND SEMI FINAL – Cardiff vs. Maitland
(11:10am at No.1 Sportsground)

The Maitland Saints looked like a premiership side on Saturday however we can not add currency to this statement until they prove that they can knock off Cardiff.

The spotlight was cast on Nikki Robson last week and the utility delivered with all three goals in the Saints’ 3.11 (29) to 0.2 (2) win against Newcastle City. Even when the visitors displayed momentum the former Singleton Roosterette went back and denied her opponents from goal. Her teammates Sophie George, Georgia Jenkins and Tahneisha Walls also stepped up to the plate in absence of ball winner Brooke Flannery. However it is still hard to tip against a Cardiff side which features Cheyenne Neu and Annika Lawrence.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Shelby Newton (Cardiff). A recipient of the AFL NSW/ACT Young Leader of the Year, she possesses accuracy in the middle.

LAST TIME THEY MET: Round 11, 2023. Cardiff 4.4 (28) defeated Maitland 3.8 (26) at Pasterfield Sports Complex.

FINAL PREDICTION: Cardiff by 11.

FIRST SEMI FINAL – Newcastle City vs. The Entrance Bateau Bay
(9:30am at No.1 Sportsground)

The Entrance Bateau Bay proved to be a genuine finals contender on Saturday when recording 27-0 scoring shots against Port Stephens. However the fifth placed line-up have been unable to match Newcastle City in season 2023.

Despite Maitland’s domination in the centre clearances, Newcastle City still held the Saints to one goal-kicker off the back of their solid defence under playing coach Emma Chester and running half back Danielle Bishop. Expect a stronger Newcastle City line-up with 49 players available for selection across the club’s two line-ups.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jessica Golledge (The Entrance Bateau Bay) scored her side’s only goal against Newcastle City this year.

LAST TIME THEY MET: Round 10, 2023. Newcastle City 7.3 (45) defeated The Entrance Bateau Bay 1.6 (12) at No.1 Sportsground.

FINAL PREDICTION: Newcastle City by 21 points.