Claudelands Rovers Premier Women's team will face the biggest 180 minutes of their season over the next two weekends, as they face off against Ellerslie AFC in the play-offs to return to the LottoNRFL Premier League.

It would be a fairytale return for Claudelands, which was relegated in 2018 after a disappointing season.

While the core of that team has left, the likes of Stella Neems, Rachel Porteous, Paige McCloskey, Olivia Schuler, Rhiannon Jones, and Kelly Le Quesne remained to begin a new era of women's football at Claudelands.

The team has only dropped points against cross town rivals Melville United, and Whakatane AFC in the WaiBOP W-League, which they were crowned champions of two weeks ago.


Against Ellerslie FC, Claudelands Rovers head coach Tai Ballantyne will have most of his squad available to try and complete the journey they started together in April.

"I couldn't have been prouder of this team. They showed the capability and steely grit to do the job that we set way back at the beginning of the season. They are a pleasure to work with and get to the job at hand quickly. I feel humbled and privileged to have worked with these young ladies this season," Ballantyne said.

"The game plan hasn't changed for us this weekend. We face every opportunity and opponent with the respect and challenge they deserve. Control the things we can, move past the things we can't."

Ellerslie AFC claimed top spot in the AFF/NFF conference earlier in August after defeating title rivals Hibiscus Coast 1-0, and securing their berth in the play-off against Claudelands.

While not wanting to single a player out in his squad, he was proud of how well some of the younger players were developing.

"All the players are standouts, its a team and every component is key to the success and why we have this opportunity ahead of us. But I'm especially proud of our developing players. We have some as young as 15 and they certainly don't look out of place playing in senior womens football."

"A case in point was our Kate Sheppard Cup clash with NRFL women's champions eastern suburbs. They all stood strong and showed a maturity and intelligence beyond their age."

Ballantyne said that he believes both teams will play strong, attacking football.


"I'm sure both teams will be similar in many regards. Playing good entertaining football showing the capabilities of why we are both in this position. One potential hurdle for us will be playing on turf. Not having these in the immediate region will make things interesting."