BDAFLW: Marlins lock first week bye while full semifinal picture now clear as playoffs set to begin

SOARING: Kanesha Murray and Natasha Flint rise for the ball as the Marlins and Magpies went head to head in the final round, with Nelson Bay gunning for the top spot. Picture: Ken Hogan
SOARING: Kanesha Murray and Natasha Flint rise for the ball as the Marlins and Magpies went head to head in the final round, with Nelson Bay gunning for the top spot. Picture: Ken Hogan

With the regular season now wrapped up, the finals picture for the Black Diamond AFL Womens campaign has been confirmed, with the Nelson Bay Marlins heading straight to the preliminary finals with their first seed finish.

The Marlins waved away a losing streak to end their season on a high, bumping Wyong Lakes down to a fourth place finish with a 4.4.28 over 1.2.8 victory at Dick Burwell Oval that was crowned with a fourth quarter double for Molly Simpson.

With a number of injuries leaving the minor premiers bare-bones for their finals campaign, Simpson’s emergence as a key kicker for the squad will provide a spark of hope – the representative star has slotted 36 majors over the course of the season to join the top five goalscorers in 2018.

Molly Simpson led the way for the Marlins with a double.

Molly Simpson led the way for the Marlins with a double.

It was Jemma Astley and Jenna Afleck that led the way early in the must-win fixture for the northern outfit, who both slotted goals in the first to give the Marlins a 12-1 lead heading into the opening break.

After a quarter of behinds at Dick Burwell, Dacia Price put the Magpies on the board in the third to close the gap by just eight points, but Simpson’s late contributions sealed the deal – and first place – for her team.

Elsewhere in the final round, Killarney Vale leapfrogged the Mapgies with a major 25.24.174 to nil over last placed Wallsend-West Newcastle, with Ashleigh Page slamming seven past the Swans, while the Newcastle City Stars recorded a 12.17.89 to 3.5.23 victory over rivals Terrigal Avoca at the No.1 Sportsground to finish second.

Singleton confirmed their finals attendance as they defeated Muswellbrook at Weeraman Field 10.10.70 to 1.2.8, with Emily Mitchell scoring a hat-trick to bring her season tally up to a goal a game in her sixteen appearances. Maitland also moved into the last finals position at the expense of Warners Bay, doubling their score 8.13.61 to 5.2.32 at Max McMahon Oval. Jessie Burnham kicked a hat-trick for the Saints.

The Newcastle City Novas also brushed away cobwebs they have been struggling with in recent weeks, guided by four for both Simone Wood and Kate Handley in their 19.21.135 to 1.0.6 triumph over the Lake Macquarie Dockers.

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Finally, both Gosford and Cardiff cemented their mid-table ends to the season with big wins over their opponents in the final rounds – the Tigers marched out 18.19.127 to nil winners over the Entrance Bateau Bay while the Hawks heaped on the hurt against Port Stephens with a similar scoreline in 18.21.129 to 0.0.0.

Faith Lewis and Minerva Bailey were the main scorers for Cardiff as they both secured hat-tricks, while Angela Jones’ five confirmed her place atop the league’s leading goalscorers with 54 in 15 outings. Sarah Burns ran second with 48 in 16, while Sarah Halvorsen rounded the top three with 44 in 15.

FINAL TABLE: Nelson Bay, Stars (56), Killarney Vale (52), Wyong Lakes, Novas (48), Singleton, Maitland (40), Gosford, Warners Bay (36), Cardiff (32), Terrigal Avoca (24), Lake Macquarie (16), Muswellbrook (12), Port Stephens (8), The Entrance Bateau Bay, Wallsend-West Newcastle (4).

This story Simpson emerges as Marlins’ leading lady as club locks first first appeared on The Star.