Claudelands Rovers may have been knocked out of the Kate Sheppard Cup, but Sunday's performance against Eastern Suburbs offered a glimpse of what the future could hold for the young team.

When the draw was originally released there was a collective sharp intake of breath for many Claudelands faithful, with predictions being made that Suburbs would run the game and score double digits.

However, for the first 45 minutes, Claudelands held the premier league leaders back, only conceding one and keeping the Suburbs strikers at bay.

Claudelands head coach Tai Ballantyne was forced into changes with several players injured or unavailable, but it was the back line again that stepped up to the game, none so much as 15-year-old Olivia Speirs.


Time after time Suburbs would look to break on the right wing and each attack was met by Speirs who was causing frustration for Suburbs attackers.

Rhiannon Jones stepped into her former position of centre back and fitted seamlessly with Kelly Le Quesne and Evahn Martinsen at the back to stifle much of the Suburbs threat.

Despite the strong defensive performance, Claudelands struggled to break through Suburbs own midfield and played parts of the first half chasing the ball.

After a slow opening, Suburbs found their stride with precise passing and movement off the ball that allowed them to finally slip through the Claudelands defence and take a 1-0 lead.

Claudelands responded with a solo run from Stacey Palmer who took on three Suburbs players, but was unable to make further progress on goal.

Much of the season for Claudelands have been them controlling possession, but on this occasion it was the reverse which resulted in a lack of chances on goal. It was a game where the players needed to shoot when the split second opportunity arose, such was the quality of Eastern Suburbs defence.

In the second half, Claudelands started the better of the two sides, a shot from Paige McCloskey was deflected over, while Stella Neems and Stacey Palmer continued to look for any opening.

However, as the half wore on Suburbs regained control of the play and scored three more goals to seal their spot in the next round of the Kate Sheppard Cup.


An injury to Claudelands keeper Georgia Williams in the first half took its toll as she continued to play in pain, but after Suburbs third goal she was unable to continue.

Rhiannon Jones took it upon herself to step up in between the posts and made several saves before Suburbs scored their fourth.

The game itself will be a learning curve for many of the younger players in the Claudelands squad. If the team wants to return to the Northern Premier League, then, bar a mistake from Tauranga City, they need to win all their remaining games this season.