The Bombers have taken the lead in the hunt for the AFL Hunter Central Coast top spot. Image via Geoff Robinson.

Killarney Vale have won the first scintillating battle for the AFL Black Diamond Cup Women’s minor premiership, edging three-time defending champs Newcastle City with 11 goals to six in their highly-anticipated sixth-round meeting. 

The Bombers and the Blues have been the teams to watch this season, not least due to the fact they both fired to 5–0 starts once the belated 2020 AFL Hunter Central Coast season finally got underway in July.

The two heavyweights meeting on August 22 could well have been a grand final rematch, but for the AFLHCC draw matching them up in the 2019 semi-finals. The Bombers — tipped as favourites for the flag last year — had their barnstorming season cut short by the ever-illustrious Blues. Killarney Vale had to watch from the sideline as Newcastle clinched their third Hunter Central Coast title in a row.

And so, all eyes were on the two contenders as they met in Round 6. Both sides had been perfect up to this point results-wise. Whoever won at Adelaide Street Oval would be in the lead in the standings, and boast the early mental edge to boot.

The clash delivered too. Skye Bailey got the Bombers off to an early 12–nil lead, but City recruit Amy Pittman kicked one back just five minutes in. Kristen Kessler, who would go on to kick two for the Bombers, struck late for an 18–6 split in the first.

The two clubs traded blows again in the second quarter, with Bailey adding her third for a first-half hat-trick. Claire Mcgarity and Annalise Norton were about to strike back for the Newcastle squad, and City found themselves trailing by just a 16 point margin as the half time whistle called for a well-earned break.

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The Bombers were able to wrestle the game into their favour in the second half, firing home five majors to Newcastle’s three. City strike-weapon Sarah Halvorsen opened the contest again early with a goal in the 16th minute of the third, splitting the difference to eight, but Killarney Vale was all class as they answered with four in a row.

Halvorsen and Pittman both chalked doubles for the defeated Blues, while Taylah Canobie shot in two late goals to join Bailey with a hat-trick haul at Adelaide Street Oval.

City’s 30–point loss locks them on 20 competition points so far in 2020, and keeps them on a five-win, one-loss record. The Bombers jump a win ahead, giving them that breathing room atop the AFL Hunter Central Coast totem pole, for now.

Clare Cummings was a standout for the third-placed Hawks in their journey south to play Wyong.

The Newcastle loss also opened the door for Cardiff to spring into the top-three mix. The Hawks kept Wyong Lakes from scoring a major as they edged them 42–1 at Northlakes Oval, and moved alongside City on 20 points.

Tayla Gregory was the standout forward for the third-place squad, shooting home three in the Round 6 clash. Nikki Standen, Eloise Petersen, and Abbey Cooksley also added a goal apiece, while Clare Cummings was named best on field.

Also in the sixth round, Maitland scored their first win of the season with a win over the combined Nelson Bay-Port Stephens outfit, while Terrigal Avoca waved away a Warners Bay challenge at Hylton Moore Oval. Jasmine Mandy led the way for the Panthers.

STANDINGS: Killarney Vale (24), Newcastle City, Cardiff (20), Terrigal Avoca (12), Wyong Lakes (8), Warners Bay, Maitland (4), Nelson Bay-Port Stephens (0).