The Mercury Cup Grand Final will pit cross-town rivals Launceston and North Launceston against each other in what promises to be an intriguing fixture.
Launceston v North Launceston – UTAS Stadium (Saturday 15 September 9:45am)
Head to Head in 2018: Launceston – 3 | North Launceston – 0
Round 1 – North Launceston 3.6 (24) def. by Launceston 18.16 (124) at UTAS Stadium
Round 8 – Launceston 9.20 (74) def. North Launceston 4.1 (25) at Windsor Park
Round 15 – North Launceston 2.2 (14) def. by Launceston 9.13 (67) at UTAS Stadium
The Blues, with the desire to atone for last season’s Grand Final loss to Clarence, finished the home and away season undefeated and marched into the decider with a crushing 107-point defeat of Glenorchy in the Semi Final a fortnight ago.
The Northern Bombers, meanwhile, have done it the hard way, finishing the season in fourth place before handing Lauderdale a hefty defeat in the Elimination Final, narrowly defeating the ‘Roos in a sudden-death Semi Final and then rolling the Magpies to book the club’s first Mercury Cup Grand Final appearance since 2012.
Past fixtures between these two sides suggest that the Blues should be far too strong on the big stage, but the Northern Bombers have built some serious momentum with this dream finals run, making an unlikely boilover a distinct possibility.
Launceston’s squad is blessed with genuine stars, with the likes of Anthony Liberatore, Giacomo Millucci, Jared Dakin, Blair Rubock and Casey Brown just a handful of players that would be walk-up starts in most senior TSL sides.
These hardened and skilled players will likely stretch a youthful North Launceston outfit; however the Northern Bombers have grown in leaps and bounds as the season has progressed, with seven wins and a draw from the eight games since last being defeated by the Blues.
If the Northern Bombers can clamp down on the Blues swift ball movement and attacking potency, an upset may just be on the cards, but with the depth of talent at Launceston’s disposal, the Blues may just break through to clinch the flag and atone for last season’s defeat.
Players to watch:
Anthony Liberatore (Launceston)
A genuine ball magnet who has dominated games throughout the season, Liberatore is a former Werribee VFL player and can not only rack up possessions, but to also hurt the opposition with deadly skill execution and scoreboard pressure when drifting forward, as highlighted by a season tally of 22 goals.
Kyle Lanham (North Launceston)
The fourth highest goal kicker in the Mercury Cup for season 2018 with 31 goals from 12 games, Lanham has taken his game to another level in the finals, booting bags of five, three and six against Lauderdale, Clarence and Glenorchy respectively. Looks to be entering the finals in devastating touch.
Giacomo Millucci (Launceston)
An excitement machine forward of centre, Millucci has kicked 42 goals from 15 games in the Mercury Cup, on top of seven goals from four games in the TSL. Capable of pulling off the miraculous, Millucci will be a difficult player to shut down.
Jackson Callow (North Launceston)
After a terrific under-16 National Championships campaign that saw him earn All-Australian honours in July, young gun Jackson Callow is at the forefront of the next wave of exciting Tasmanian talent. Callow has kicked 19 goals from the seven Mercury Cup matches he has played this season and looks ready to play a key role on the biggest stage of all.
HOW TO FOLLOW
LIVE Audio Stream of the match via City Park Radio’s Facebook Page
Photos and vision on the official TSL Instagram account