Cardiff muscled past Port Stephens on Saturday afternoon to keep on-pace for finals. Image via Geoff Robinson.

Cardiff have survived a short-quarter ambush from Port Stephens at Ferodale Park, as a goalless third period wasn’t enough to stop the Hawks rolling over the Power in Round 16 of the women’s premiership.

The Hawks have soared to sixth so far this season, and their tenth win of the season was no different as they edged Port Stephens 10.17-77 to 1.1-7, with 52 points scored in the opening half for the travelling side.

Eva Bailey led the scoring with a hat-trick, while a double for Taylah Wilks propped up her best-on-field run. Jodi Rheinberger, Eloise Petersen, Minerva Bailey and Sheree Vukovich rounded out the haul, while Mihaela Simeonova was the Powers’ lone scorer.

Hawks boss Paul Cooksley said his side has come away from the battle at Ferodale with “a few things to work on” despite the 70-point margin on Saturday afternoon.

“It was a funny old one for us, Port Stephens really turned up to play and showed how much they’ve developed up there,” he said.

“There was a lot of push from them, and they gave it a real crack. We managed it well in the first half, but the Port girls beat us in the third quarter. There are a few areas we’ve been given to improve on, but overall the girls did the job they had to do well.”

With Cardiff all but locked in to play the postseason, Cooksley knows he has to have his side up to scratch once elimination footy rolls around. “The top six have put on a real show this season. There’s going to be some very good teams playing finals.”

That challenge comes from both outwards and inwards for the sixth-placed team.

Challenging fixtures against Maitland and Lake Macquarie in the next two weeks give the Hawks the chance to test themselves early for finals, Cardiff’s helmsman says.

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He also knows the forward stock he started the season with has narrowed, and traversing that may be the key to victory: “We were heading in the right direction, and everyone has to deal with injuries, but we’ve copped a few key ones, unfortunately.”

The Hawks lost Arizona Cross, who had pinged 16 goals in seven matches, earlier in the season before Hayley Wright was ruled out for the season against City in mid-July. The team’s full-forward had scored a team-high 29 in ten.

Cooksley’s already taken action to boost the goals from his attacking force, however, shifting junior rep star Eloise Petersen into the half-forwards. Alongside the swap, Minerva Bailey has returned from a month away and brings with her nineteen goals.

“We shouldn’t lose too many goals from Hayley being out with those changes, and the goals that we already have in the team,” Cooksley said. “Injuries aren’t going to be an excuse for us, we’re still aiming up for a deep finals run.

“In my eyes, when we play our best footy we can match it with anyone, and that’s what we’re going to be looking to do to end the season, and into finals. It’s been a good season so far, and hopefully, the girls can push as that little bit further from here.”

Also this round, Warners Bay kept their lead above Singleton in the mid-table mix with a 14.8-92 to 0.2-2 win over Singleton at Feighan Oval, while Wallsend-West Newcastle kept on the Roosterettes’ tails with a 43-point win over The Entrance Bateau Bay.

Elsewhere in Round 16, Gosford fell to Terrigal Avoca as Emily Bryant and Bronte Korsch fired the Panthers to a two-ton win over the Tigers at Adcock Park, and Wyong Lakes defeated Nelson Bay. Maitland also kept second with a 122-nil over the Cats.

Newcastle City, Killarney Vale, and Lake Macquarie all had the round bye.

TABLE: Killarney Vale (93%), Maitland (86%), Wyong Lakes, Newcastle City, Terrigal Avoca (79%), Cardiff (71%), Lake Macquarie (57%), Warners Bay (50%), Singleton (40%), Wallsend-West Newcastle (38%), Nelson Bay (29%), Port Stephens (20%), The Entrance Bateau Bay, Gosford (14%), Muswellbrook (0%).