Despite currently sitting a game and 10% clear of third-placed Launceston after the penultimate round, Glenorchy coach Paul Kennedy is refusing to count his chickens until everything is said and done on Saturday evening.
With second spot bringing with it a double chance and a home qualifying final, the stakes are high for the Magpies when they meet the third-placed Blues this Saturday, and after such an intriguing season to date, Kennedy is wary that anything could still happen.
“We could [be knocked off second spot].
“The results this year have been up and down all around the competition, so I’ve learnt pretty quickly not to take anything for granted down here,” Kennedy said ahead of this weekend’s showdown.
“It’s one of those ones where you have five really even teams and a sixth one in the Tigers who can be really competitive on their day, so you have got to be on.
“The percentage is a lot to make up, but we have beaten every side by eight goals or so this year and I think most teams have had big wins like that themselves. We won’t be taking the foot off the pedal just because we have had some wins.
“We want to win this game. We want to finish second and carry this momentum we have got and get a home final at Bellerive.”
The Magpies are riding high at the moment, having recorded consecutive thumping wins over North Hobart and the Tigers before coming back from an early deficit to overrun the ‘Roos by 31 points at Blundstone Arena to win the Bingley-Linton Cup for a fifth straight year.
“We were being outworked in terms of getting to the contest. It’s something we have worked on since we had that first run of four losses in a row.
“We identified that we were sometimes being beaten to the contest at that stage and we got better with our spread and workrate around the ground.
“Clarence did a really good job of owning territory in that first quarter so we changed a few things and the guys upped their work rate. I was really pleased with the way they responded with the IQ of their play and their desperation to get to the contest.”
A key talking point out of the win was the successful return of 2016 Darrel Baldock Medalist Clinton French, who was a late inclusion for the injured Mitch Rainbird.
French kicked three goals to spark the Magpies en route to a stirring win.
“The first thing I said was that the team is picked on merit.
“Our whole game plan is a lot of hard work and he was behind the eight ball to start with, but he has done everything right since.
“He has asked a lot of questions and done the running with the seniors and sat on the bench with the seniors. With Matt Joseph out injured, that role that Matty has been playing was one that suited Frenchy.
“He was a bit rusty early- he only touched it once or twice for the first quarter and a bit but he doesn;t need many chances to make a difference and he showed his class in those last three quarters,” Kennedy said.
With Joseph, Mitch Rainbird and Zac Webster all currently out injured and the likes of William Atkin, Chris McKnight and French making an immediate impact, the Magpies may have some selection conundrums come finals.
“Sometimes in footy you look at it and you think you will have lots of players back and it will be tough and then an injury or two pops up, so we will have to wait and see.
“Having depth isn’t a bad thing and the reality is that most of our depth is really young.”
For the moment, however, Kennedy and the Magpies are remaining solely focused on this weekend’s trip to Windsor Park.
“I was speaking with someone at a VFL club and looking at the [TSL] lists and they were impressed by what Launceston have.
“There is a lot of good talent there and they have started to click – they played some great footy early in the year and then had a bit of a down patch, but you could see what Sam was trying to do.
“Now they have found a recipe that’s working and we are two teams that move the ball well, so it will be a good test.
“It is a bit of a different ground up there – it’s a bit like the Subiaco of the TSL – it’s a bit longer, so you have to play a little bit of a different way.
“It will be a good challenge for our guys to adjust the way they play – we want to go into finals having won four in a row and having beaten two of the contenders.”