The Women’s Premier League is just days from kicking off the 2019 season, and already hype and expectation is building around the top-level Northern NSW Football comp.

Billed as potentially the “biggest on record” by NNSW, the league has ballooned to eight teams again after Football Mid North Coast and the Thornton Redbacks confirmed they would be returning in 2019.

Merewether United come into the new league as back-to-back defending champions, after downing minor premiers Warners Bay in the WPL grand final in 2018. There’s no guarantee either team will return to the upper echelons of the competition however, as player movements across the league have put a new face on many teams.

The biggest clash in the opening weekend comes in the form of United against New Lambton. While the Eagles finished third in 2018, they are aiming for the title this time around, and Merewether presents their first major challenge in that department.

The Women’s Premier League has expanded to eight teams in 2019. Image via Sproule Sports Focus.

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Lead by sharpshooter Tara Andrews, New Lambton are sure to be a major goal threat throughout the year, and club coach Keelan Hamilton told NNSW ahead of the major clash that he wants to take the opportunity to show what they’ve learned in the off-season.

“While round one won’t define anything for our whole season, obviously we want to go and put on a good performance, and it’s a good opportunity to show that against the current champions in Merewether,” Hamilton said.

“They’ve got experience across the pitch with many dangerous players, so we’ll have to be aware of everyone and make sure we’re well prepared to perform well on Sunday.

“Our opinion of Merewether is one of huge respect to what they’ve done. They’ve been hugely successful in the last few years and they’ve got a lot of experienced players. We’re just looking forward to round one… we’re ready to get down to business.”

New Lambton’s clash against Merewether is set to begin at 2.30pm on Sunday, March 10 at Myamblah Oval.

Elsewhere in the round, Football Mid North Coast host South Wallsend in Taree, while Warners Bay battles against the Adamstown Rosebuds and Thornton travels to Wallsend to begin their return to the WPL.