This weekend sees the second AFL Hunter Central Coast Women’s Representative Challenge, a “showcase of the women’s AFL talent” in the Newcastle, Hunter, and Central Coast regions.

The finall 22-player squads have been named ahead of the Easter Monday clashes, and now defending Newcastle coach Kate Handley, who last year ran out onto the field with the eventual champions, believes they’re ready to go back-to-back.

“I think we have a great balance of young talented players as well as more experienced girls that have been around the sport since it began in Newcastle in 2015,” Handley said.

“The pressure is obviously on us to regain the title after winning last year but we are up for the challenge.”

Hunter coach Craig Golledge, who also stands in as the AFLHCC Womens representative squad when they travel outside the region, will be casting his eyes over the entire tournament for potential candidates for his next team.

Newcastle come into the 2019 AFLHCC Representative Challenge as defending champions. Image via Ken Hogan.

This Monday, however, the Hunter coach will be all eyes on claiming their first ever Representative Challenge victory, with experience guiding the way come their first match at 10am.

“Our squad will rely heavily on our more experienced players like Kate Holland and Sarah Burns to lead the way however I’m also excited to see how some of our younger talent like Cheyenne Neu and Tahlia Thompson handle the added responsibilities,” Golledge said.

“If enthusiasm counts for anything we will be ready to compete on the day.”

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Finally, Central Coast prepare for the journey north to lay claim to the second challenge title in 2019, with three of their local clubs still undefeated in the AFL Hunter Central Coast competition.

Every AFLHCC Representative Challenge fixture will be livestreamed on BarTV Sports, from the first game at 10am to the tournament’s final.

With a star-studded roster, coach Peter Kelleher believes they have the talent to break open the competition and claim the win.

“Ash Page is dominating, Bec Ives is reaching form after injuries last year and Kanesha Murray is looking fit and mean,” co-coach Kelleher said. “Our team is extremely fit and mobile which we hope will be the difference.”

This is also the first year the tournament will be decided by a major grand final, instead of just a round-robin table electing a winner.

It’s a chance Newcastle coach Handley believes is “needed” to add extra excitement, more games, and a major element to end the representative day.

“Yes I think the day needs to have a final. It will bring that next level of interest to the carnival and will definitely build excitement and really reinforce the winning team,” she said.

First match starts at 10am. The AFLHCC Women’s Representative Challenge will also be streamed live from Ferodale Park. Tune in on BarTV Sports, or watch on AFLHCC’s Facebook page. Newcastle play against Central Coast in the opening fixture.

Central Coast are eager to chalk their names in the history books this Easter Monday. Image via Ken Hogan.

Women’s Representative Carnival 2019 squads

Central Coast: Bethany Wood, Jocelyn Kelleher, Sasha Edwards, Angela Jones, Ashleigh Page, Megan Jenkins, Kelsey Acton (Killarney Vale), Isabelle Brierley, Lisllias Gardner, Darneka Rowe, Morgan Ross (Terrigal Avoca), Kayla Reed (The Entrance Bateau Bay), Emily Bohan (c), Sarah Ball, Holly Gibbons, Alexandra Pearce, Kanesha Murray, Rachael Potts, Rebecca Ives, Abby Pearce, Taylah Tudehope, Alanna Nicholson (Wyong Lakes); Peter Kelleher, Murray Schubert coaches, Josh Lawler Jackson Farquhar assistants.

Newcastle: Emma-Jayne Howe, Carla Hill, Brianna Trappett (Lake Macquarie), Di Crep, Tracey Baker (Warners Bay), Kate Booth, Ashlea Finn, Amy Pittman, Lisa Morales (Wallsend-West Newcastle), Meaghan MacDonald, Chiara Lam, Taylor Joyce, Rosie Ronan Yates, Maddy Norton, Annalise Norton, Molly Simpson (Newcastle City), Arizona Cross, Taylah Wilks, Eloise Petersen, Tayla Grazules, Claudia Russell, Sheree Vukovich (Cardiff); Kate Handley coach.

Hunter: Sophie Burns, Hannah Centra, Jodie Eagar, Gabrielle Easey, Ashlee Fennell, Anna Fraser, Leawanna O’Donohue, Jessie Hickman (Maitland), Natalie Heard (Muswellbrook), Jemma Astley, Natasha Flint, Kate Holland, Jessie Jones, Madison Mulder (Nelson Bay), Ashley Craddock, Danielle McLeod, Cheyenne Neu (Port Stephens), Sophie Breeze, Brianna Howard, Kyah McBride, Elizabeth Moule, Hayley Richards, Tahlia Thompson (Singleton); Craig Golledge coach.