Claudelands Rovers have dragged themselves back to second in the WaiBOP W-League, with a 5-1 win over rival title challengers Pāpāmoa FC, while Melville United picked up their third win of the season against Hamilton Wanderers.
The WaiBOP W-League is at its midway point, with a third round to be played without Hamilton Wanderers and Tauranga Blue Rovers.
It is currently Tauranga City AFC which is holding on to the top spot, fending off a resurgent Ōtumoetai Premiership. The bottom placed Ōtumoetai took the lead thanks to Meila Storey.
Tauranga City replied with a goal from Nicky Hingston, before further heartbreak for Ōtumoetai with a late own goal to give Tauranga the victory to keep them cemented at the top.
Claudelands needed a victory to keep up with Tauranga at the top of the table. A loss at this stage of the season would dent their title hopes.
On the bench for Claudelands was new signing Lauren McErlean who had featured previously for Onehunga Sports in 2017, brought in to help fill the void left by Natalie Dixon in the midfield who returned back to America two weeks ago.
Claudelands started on the front foot with strong possession play, however Pāpāmoa's physicality and numbers prevented an opening goal early on.
Head coach Tai Ballantyne has repeated time after time that his team rises to the big occasions, and again it proved true after Emily Woollaston whipped in a cross which Rhiannon Jones turned on and half vollied home to open the scoring.
Despite bringing in midfield cover, Abbie Watson continued to cement her position as a starter in the midfield, working with her midfield trio of Paige McCloskey and Rachel Porteous to switch the ball from side to side.
A mix-up at a corner allowed Claudelands to score their second of the match, with the ball finding its way past the near post and allowing Porteous to touch home.
Amberley Hollis denied Pāpāmoa twice in quick succession to maintain a 2-0 lead for Claudelands at the half time break.
In the second half Pāpāmoa came out with more determination, but Claudelands managed to take control of the game with Jones striking from outside the box to put the game to bed for Claudelands.
McErlean fitted seamlessly when coming off the bench and provided the team with pressure off the ball along with Olivia Schuler.
A flurry of late goals in the dying minutes saw Porteous secure her hat-trick and the three points for Claudelands, despite a late goal from Pāpāmoa.
A Hamilton derby awaits next week with Melville United travelling to Galloway, in the reverse fixture Melville stunned Claudelands with a deserved 2-1 win.
Melville United breezed past Wanderers 4-1 in the Hamilton derby at Gower Park. Clare MacKintosh's first half double eased Melville into half time, before further goals from Emma Sizer and Tonianne Sizer paved the way to victory.