Round five of the Bupa Tasmanian State League season resumes on Saturday, with a blockbuster clash between Clarence and Launceston at Blundstone Arena, and a North Launceston side including Tom Couch making the trip to North Hobart Oval.
The round also doubles as a marker for National Road Safety Week, 30 April – 6 May 2018, with yellow armbands incorporated into the round in support of the initiative. Traffic injury is the biggest killer of Australian children under 15 and the second biggest killer of all Australians aged between 15 and 24.
Jump online today and PLEDGE to Drive So Others Survive. https://www.sarahgroup.org/
Saturday 28th April
North Hobart v. North Launceston (North Hobart Oval) – 2:00pm
Last Time They Met: Hobart City Demons 11.7 (73) def. by North Launceston 21.13 (139) – Round 11, 2017 at North Hobart Oval
Form Guide (most recent first): North Hobart – L L L L | North Launceston – W L W W
North Hobart have shown green shoots of growth and development across the opening four rounds, but an encounter with heavyweight and reigning premier North Launceston looms as another challenge altogether.
The Demons have been bolstered by the return of Sean Willis, but will likely go into the clash without skipper Hugh Williams, who suffered a nasty injury in round four.
Nathan McCulloch will play a key role for the Demons, while the return of William Peppin from Mariners duties will also provide a boost.
North Launceston will be making the trip down the Midlands for a second straight week after holding on to win a thriller against Clarence, but with gun forwards Tom Bennett, Zach Burt and Bart McCulloch and other stars in Taylor Whitford, Josh Ponting and Mark Walsh among others, expect the Bombers to stretch this young but feisty Demons outfit too thin.
North Launceston enter the match without captain Brad Cox-Goodyer, but will be welcoming back premiership coach and star of the competition Tom Couch for the first time since the flag triumph.
How North Launceston adapt to the tighter confines of North Hobart Oval will be interesting, but the class of the reigning premier should be too much for this developing North Hobart outfit.
Players to watch:
Sean Willis (North Hobart): A prodigious talent with both a cricket bat and football, 23-year-old Willis was a welcome return to this Demons outfit in round four and will need to play a key role inside 50 for the Demons to put scoreboard pressure on the Northern Bombers.
Tom Bennett (North Launceston): With eight goals to start 2018, Bennett has been a consistent presence inside forward 50 for the reigning premier. Against an inexperienced and youthful North Hobart side, expect Bennett to wreak havoc on Saturday afternoon with his height, experience and skill.
Clarence v. Launceston (Blundstone Arena) – 2:00pm
Last Time They Met: Clarence 7.11 (53) def. by Launceston 13.8 (86) – 1st Semi-Final, 2017 at Blundstone Arena
Form Guide (most recent first): Clarence – L W B W | Launceston – B W W L
Last time the Roos met the Blues, it was Launceston who took the chocolates as part of a stunning 2017 finals run.
Seven months on, this clash looms as a genuine blockbuster as both sides look to push a case for being a premiership fancy.
Both sides possess star-studded midfields with Launceston’s group of Brodie Palfreyman, Jay Blackberry and Jake Hinds going up against Jackson O’Brien and Troy Cunliffe a fascinating proposition.
Clarence will be without a star midfielder however, with Brady Jones missing through injury. Key defender Jason Bailey and his brother Ryan return, while Launceston have surprisingly dropped star forward Sonny Whiting.
Launceston still possess an impressive forward group, with Mitch Thorp and Rulla Kelly-Mansell likely to stretch Clarence’s defence.
Clarence are never an easy side to beat at home, but with Launceston’s firepower inside 50, the Blues may just enter the clash as favourites. For me, flip a coin – this promises to be a beauty.
Players to watch:
Jackson O’Brien (Clarence): The Clarence skipper missed round one with injury but has played a key role in his first two games for the season, combining well with the likes of Jones and Cunliffe to form one of the competition’s most potent midfields.
Hamish Leedham (Launceston): One of the form ruckmen of the competition, Leedham’s ability both in the air and around the ground makes him a difficult proposition to curtail. Leedham has the capacity to push forward and impact the scoreboard, and on the big expanses of Blundstone Arena, expect Leedham to play a key role for the Blues.
Saturday 28th April
North Hobart v North Launceston – North Hobart Oval (2:00pm)
Clarence v. Launceston – Blundstone Arena (2:00pm)