Round two is almost upon us, and with clashes between traditional rivals, modern foes and a meeting between the competition’s pacesetter and a fresh-faced Clarence, there is plenty to look out for.
North Launceston v Clarence – UTAS Stadium (2:00pm)
Last Time They Met: North Launceston 13.11 (89) def. Clarence 11.4 (70) – Round 18, 2019 at UTAS Stadium
Clarence were one of just two sides to have defeated the eventual premiers in 2018, but with both sides making plenty of changes over the summer, this clash offers a sense of intrigue.
North Launceston started its premiership defence in style last weekend, with new faces Ben Elmer and Braden van Buuren settling into the team’s structures well to indicate that the competition’s pacesetter is likely to be a team to beat once more in 2019.
The ‘Roos enter this season without 2018 mainstays Jackson O’Brien, Troy Cunliffe and Harry Richmond, but with the likes of Clint Riley, Ethan Jackson and Blair Rubock and Jordan Roberts.
Jeromey Webberley has got the best out of his squads in recent seasons, and although likely to do the same again this year, it is tough to see where the ‘Roos improvement is going to come from after last season’s first round finals exit.
Some of this improvement may come through a stack of young guns being blooded, with the likes of Sam Banks, Tyler Penwright, Oliver Preshaw and Adrian Butterworth – all of whom are renowned as some of the state’s best young talent. A clash against the competition’s very best should prove to be a terrific challenge for these young joeys first up.
Clarence will come out firing for the club’s opening clash of the season, but the firepower of the reigning premiers – particularly with a midfield group of Whitford, Ponting and Cox-Goodyer should prove too strong. Throw in the additions of Jordan Tepper and Bart McCulloch, and the reigning premiers look to be as daunting an opposition as ever.
Tip: Northern Bombers by 30 points
Players to watch:
Jay Foon (North Launceston): The Bombers’ vice-captain made a strong return to the field last weekend after sustaining a season-ending neck injury in round 17 of last season, bringing with him plenty of experience and drive off half back. A star of the competition, Foon could cause the ‘Roos some serious headaches.
Zac Buechner (Clarence): Fresh from a stint in the NEAFL with Aspley, Buechner will likely act as a focal point inside 50 for the ‘Roos. With plenty of talent and now added experience, Buechner could be a significant player in 2019.
Lauderdale v Launceston – Lauderdale Oval (2:00pm)
Last Time They Met: Launceston 6.6 (42) def. by Lauderdale 17.12 (114) – Semi Final, 2018 at UTAS Stadium
The Blues and Bombers have had some fascinating duels in recent times, most notably the Preliminary Final of 2017 and Semi Final in 2018, both of which went the way of the southern Bombers.
Launceston, with a new coach, new leadership group and fresh faces, will likely head into this clash without the memory of last year’s Semi hanging over them, but this early-season match-up offers a great opportunity for vengeance nonetheless.
The Blues were competitive in their first hit out for 2019, troubling the Magpies but never quite getting complete control over the contest. Lauderdale, on the other hand, were put on the backfoot early before rallying late to record a comprehensive victory.
Launceston’s forward set-up, led by Mitch Thorp, will once again be crucial, while the continued improvement of Brodie Palfreyman and Jake Smith will also be important moving forward.
Lauderdale, however, with an injection of class over the summer (Sam Burge, Sam Siggins, Alex Saunders), mixed with the experience of Bryce Walsh, Phil Bellchambers, Josh McGuinness and the like, should see the Grand Finalists go 2-0 to start the season – a far cry from the 0-3 starts of recent years.
The southern Bombers will also be boosted by the return of Rhys Sutton and Mitch Anderton; two players that we know can make a significant impact.
Keep your eyes peeled on the ruck battle between Hamish Leedham and Haydn Smith, with these two big men both being competitive beasts with the capacity to compete around the ground. Whoever gives their midfield first use could prove to play a pivotal role, especially with both sides possessing deep midfield brigades. Watch this match-up with great interest.
These two teams have developed a fierce rivalry in recent seasons, and this match promises to be an entertaining spectacle.
Tip: Bombers by 24 points
Players to watch:
Sam Burge (Lauderdale): A strong body with a knack for hitting the scoreboard, Burge couldn’t have done much more in his first TSL appearance. Burge looks to compliment the Bombers’ midfield brigade and forward set-up handsomely and could be a handful for the Blues.
Fletcher Seymour (Launceston): The former ‘Roo and Australian under-19 cricketer had a stellar 2018, developing into a strong midfield cog for Jeromey Webberley’s side. Now back home in Launceston, Seymour’s strength and attack on the footy will make him a key player against a hardened Lauderdale group.
Glenorchy v North Hobart – KGV Oval (6:00pm)
Last Time They Met: Glenorchy 22.23 (155) def. North Hobart 1.5 (11) – Round 18, 2018 at KGV Oval
It will be a nod to the past on Saturday night, with Glenorchy set to wear a special edition green and gold New Town Football Club jumper to celebrate the club’s centenary.
On a big night in a momentous year for their club, expect the Magpies to come out firing against arguably its greatest traditional rival.
Glenorchy looked solid in round one, with Aiden Grace, Sam Rundle and Sam Reeves all slotting into life in the black and white in style in the Windsor Park victory.
The Magpies wasted opportunities in this clash and will be looking to sharpen up against a North Hobart side that challenged Lauderdale last weekend.
The Demons, guided by Colin Garland, Hugh Williams and Nathan McCulloch, look to be far more competitive this season, with youngsters maturing and bigger bodies able to provide support.
North Hobart will be breathing fire, particularly early in the season when bodies are at their freshest, and with a big occasion beckoning against a traditional rival, the Dees should take it right up to the ‘Pies early. But if Glenorchy are to be a genuine premiership threat, this is a game the Magpies simply must bank.
The return of RACT Insurance Player of the Year Daniel Joseph and Tasmania Devils midfielder Ryan Banks-Smith will further bolster this strong Magpies side.
Tip: Magpies by 40 points
Players to watch:
Clinton French (Glenorchy): Crucial to the attacking potency of this Glenorchy side, French could prove to be a matchwinner if allowed to get off the chain. Experienced, skilful and a fierce competitor.
Ole Angerstein (North Hobart): The North Hobart big man impressed in his debut last weekend, showcasing his strength in a solid display. A big body, Angerstein will need to perform under lights to curb the influence of in-form Magpie Cameron Duffy.