Four games into the WaiBOP W-League season, and Claudelands Rovers find themselves at the top of the W-League, neck-and-neck with Tauranga City AFC.

Claudelands defeated Pāpāmoa FC 2-0, at the time level on points, while Tauranga City claimed a 5-1 win over Ōtumoetai. Both Claudelands and Tauranga are level on goal difference, with Claudelands only ahead on goals scored.

It's the position that head coach Tai Ballantyne will be happy about, although he will now require his team to dig deep and not get complacent, as the season closes on the half way point.

Against Pāpāmoa FC, the side showed the steel that was missing from their 6-4 win against Hamilton Wanderers last weekend. It was a game the women needed to win, and they did, holding on to their first clean sheet of the season.

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Evahn Martinsen put in an inspiring performance from the back, while Rachel Porteous continued her fine form in front of goal, grabbing one of the two goals scored.

If there is one criticism of the side recently, it would be the sluggish starts to games. On another day, the start could have costed a goal with goalkeeper Amberley Hollis making two saves early on.

As the minutes ticked on Claudelands grew into the game, and just before half time the team found their break through Porteous.

With space to operate, she fired on goal from 30 yards out, her shot fumbled by the Pāpāmoa keeper rolling into the back of the net and giving Claudelands the 1-0 lead at half time.

In the second half the game remained a tight affair, both teams not wanting to give a way an inch.

Stella Neems rattled the post with a thunderous attempt while Pāpāmoa began to string attacks of their own together.

Coach Tai Ballantyne made the move to bring on Stacey Palmer, Abbie Watson, Gemma Cottrell and Emily Woollaston to provide fresh legs across the pitch, with the substitutions paying off in the long run.

Head coach Tai Ballantyne (left) and team manager Warren Jones (right) flanking the premier women's team.
Head coach Tai Ballantyne (left) and team manager Warren Jones (right) flanking the premier women's team.

Minutes after her introduction, Palmer was able to get herself on the end of a Natalie Dixon shot to jab home Claudelands second goal of the game, and provide some breathing space.

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In the end it was the goal that was needed to give Claudelands the space to get over the line.

The team faces Melville United in a local derby at Gower Park on Sunday, who took a 4-0 win over Hamilton Wanderers on Sunday. Shannen Perry, Emma Sizer, Johnelle Wereta and Katie Marshall all found the back of the net in that game.

While another win in that game is crucial, all eyes will be on Galloway the following weekend as Claudelands hosts Tauranga City in what will be a huge test of character.

Results

Tauranga Blue Rovers W League 0 : 3 Whakatāne Town AFC Women
Hamilton Wanderers W-League 0 : 4 Melville Premier Women
Tauranga City Premier Women 5 : 1 Ōtumoetai Premiership
Claudelands Rovers Premier Women 2 : 0 Pāpāmoa FC Premier