Oxfords have staked a strong claim for the 2019 premiership, after securing a 4-2 win over Central Coast on Saturday afternoon. The two-goal victory puts the team just a single point off the top spot on the ladder, and within touching distance of the leaders.

It was Oxfords forward Kim Tuckwell that got her side off the mark against Central, sneaking a goal just two minutes into the contest at the Newcastle International Hockey Centre. The travelling Coast side bit back, equalising minutes later, before the two teams remained deadlocked for much of the first period.

Oxford lifted intensity in the second half, grabbing two more goals through Tuckwell for her second, and Danielle Barry just ahead of half-time.

Victorious coach Shannon Hunt said she thought the first-half haul was a “great performance” from her girls to grab a lead in the match.

“They did really well,” she told the Chronicle after her side’s win. “The second quarter was definitely our best, but I think the girls held on throughout the game as Central isn’t a team to take on lightly.”

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The southern team clawed back in the third, tightening the margin to just a single goal after converting a penalty shot right ahead of the third-period whistle.

“The intensity definitely dropped off in the third quarter,” Hunt said, “but I think our side maintained their composure to get the result in the end.”

The final quarter was high intensity from both sides, as Central looked for a crucial equaliser in the game. It was the Oxfords that would have the last say in the battle, however, as Niahm Dixon slotted home a fourth to secure the win.

“I think our combination of speed, youth, and experience is really paying off,” Hunt said of the 4-2 result. “Kim [Tuckwell] is a great player, and I think she works really well upfront with the younger girls. We will just keep working on our marking up at training, and be ready for the next match.”

Also at the Newcastle arena, Erina Avoca Beach defeated Tigers in the late game. Elsewhere Saturday, The Entrance scored a 2-0 win against University in a close battle at the CCHA. Also at the southern venue, Souths picked up a win by the same scoreline against Gosford to keep in the race for the top spot. Regals had the bye.

TABLE: Erina Avoca Beach, Souths, Regals (14), Oxfords (13), Gosford (11), Tigers, The Entrance (10), Central (8), University (4).

I'm a 19 year old student at the University of Newcastle, studying a Bachelor of Communication majoring in Journalism. I grew up on the Mid North Coast, where I developed a love for soccer, surfing and writing.