Round one is finally upon us, with three big matches set to give us an early indication of who to look out for in season 2019.
Tigers FC v North Launceston – Twin Ovals (6:00pm)
Last Time They Met: Tigers 5.6 (36) def. by North Launceston 17.13 (115) – Round 16, 2018 at Twin Ovals
North Launceston’s premiership defence will get underway with a tricky fixture against the Tigers on the road.
Baumeler’s Tigers are tipped by many to be an improver in 2019, with the inclusions of Kieran Lovell, Michael Paul and Elijah Reardon adding experience and x-factor to this squad. Throw in the returns of Marcus Davies and Ryan Matthews from injury and the Tigers have enough talent to trouble most sides.
The loss of best and fairest winner Mitch Carter hurts, but the Tigers look to have recruited well enough to alleviate some of this loss.
North Launceston will blood plenty of new faces to start the year given the loss of some premiership stars including Tom Bennett and Zach Burt, but with the likes of Josh Ponting and Taylor Whitford, expect the reigning premier to start its premiership defence with a hard-fought win.
Alex Lee will again have a big role to play as ruckman, while whether the likes of new faces Jordan Tepper and Ben Elmer can slot straight into the side effectively will also be a talking point.
The reigning premiers still look the goods for this one, however.
Tip: Northern Bombers by 24 points
Players to watch:
Kieran Lovell (Tigers): A strong-bodied midfielder with a knack for getting his hands on the football, Lovell is a welcome addition to an already dangerous Tiger midfield brigade. With three years of AFL experience at Hawthorn under his belt, the 21-year-old will be looking to stamp his authority early in the season.
Josh Ponting (North Launceston): With the Lynch Medal and the 2018 Premiership, Ponting couldn’t have done much more last season. An elite ball winner, Ponting is a player to watch every week but after a remarkably consistent couple of seasons, a firing ‘Punter’ could help the Northern Bombers’ start its premiership defence in style against a dangerous Tigers midfield.
The teams are in for round one, and #BUPATSL fans have plenty to look forward to with a host of fresh faces (including this guy!) set to make their mark.
— Bupa TSL (@TasStateLeague) March 28, 2019
Launceston v Glenorchy – Windsor Park (2:00pm)
Last Time They Met: Glenorchy 3.10 (88) def. Launceston 10.14 (74) – Qualifying Final, 2018 at Blundstone Arena
The Blues and Magpies played out three classic encounters last season, with two home and away matches decided by less than a goal to the Blues and a highly entertaining Qualifying Final that went to a Brodie Rowbottom-inspired Glenorchy.
2019 sees Launceston’s Sam Rundle switch allegiances to the black and white, with former Clarence forward Aiden Grace also coming into the fold for Paul Kennedy and co.
Launceston enters the year with a new coach, new captains and plenty of fresh faces – meaning this opening round clash could tell plenty as to where the re-jigged Blues sit early.
The additionof former Clarence midfielder Fletcher Seymour will provide the Blues with some grunt, while Sam Bruinewoud’s inclusion will see the hosts operate with plenty of tall timber, with Hamish Leedham named at full forward and Thorp at Centre Half Forward.
If Harrison Gunther, Josh Grant, Josh Arnold and RACT Insurance Player of the Year Daniel Joseph are able to curb the influence of a Mitch Thorp-led forward line, the Magpies should be able to find enough avenues to wrestle control and record a win to start the year.
Tip: Magpies by 15 points
Players to watch:
Mitch Thorp (Launceston): The Hudson Medallist has taken the reigns as senior coach for 2019 and will be looking to lead from the front. Glenorchy boast one of the league’s defences, and as the competition’s premier forward, Thorp’s influence will be crucial for the Blues.
Sam Rundle (Glenorchy): The former Blue leader has made the move to KGV and looks primed for a big year. A big addition to the Magpies’ midfield rotation, Rundle will have extra motivation to start the season well against his ex-teammates.
North Hobart v Lauderdale – North Hobart Oval (2:00pm)
Last Time They Met: North Hobart 8.4 (52) def. by Lauderdale 26.16 (172) – Round 20, 2018 at North Hobart Oval
The new season offers a sense of hope and optimism for these clubs.
The Bombers, looking to get the season off to a fast start in pursuit of a third straight Grand Final appearance, and the Demons, eager to become a force to be reckoned with once again.
Lauderdale has been a notoriously slow starter in recent campaigns (0-3 in 2017 and 2018) yet have gone on to make the last two Grand Finals. If the Bombers can get off to a fast start, the club’s run towards the business end of the season will be much less strenuous.
North Hobart will be no pushover, however, with the Demons’ youthful squad, littered with the experienced Hugh Williams, Nathan McCulloch and Colin Garland among others, likely to have learned plenty from the tests of last season.
Often playing with great freedom and a sense of dare, North Hobart will be an entertaining side to watch and could strike to cause a boilover early in the season.
Lauderdale, however, with a hard-edged midfield containing the likes of Phil Bellchambers, Bryce Walsh and Nat Franklin – and stars across the park – should be far too strong and buck the side’s recent trend of starting season’s slowly.
Tip: Bombers by 42 points
Players to watch:
Colin Garland (North Hobart): The 151-game AFL veteran will be a welcome full-time addition to this North Hobart outfit, with the key position player helping steer the Demons to their only win last season. Likely to play a number of roles, Garland will be a key if the Dees are to start the year on a positive note.
Bryce Walsh (Lauderdale): The Lauderdale skipper had an injury interrupted 2018 but remains one of the competition’s premier midfielders. A fit and firing Walsh will no doubt marshal the Bombers’ on-ball brigade but could also be a dangerous asset inside forward 50.