Written by Grant Jessup.
Round four of the Bupa Tasmanian State League is nearly here and with two Good Friday blockbusters and an Eastern Shore derby, it is set to be a cracker.
Launceston v North Launceston – Windsor Park (Friday: 1:45pm)
Last Time They Met: North Launceston 8.12 (60) def. Launceston 8.11 (59) – Round 15, 2018 at UTAS Stadium
Cross-town rivals North Launceston and Launceston will re-commence hostiles for the first time in the 2019 Bupa TSL season.
Despite the substantial list turnover, the Northern Bombers have made a strong start to the season, accounting for Tigers and Clarence in their opening two rounds. Taylor Whitford is in red-hot form with the playing-coach performing strongly in the midfield and consistently hitting the scoreboard for the Bombers.
Bombers ruckman Alex Lee is looming as a big challenge for the competition’s big men through his domination of the hitouts. However, Hamish Leedham is also great form, setting the stage for a fascinating contest between two of the competitions in-form ruckmen.
Meanwhile the Blues won their first game of the season last week against North Hobart. The young side made big statement against the Demons, dominating the centre clearances and running away with a huge victory. Mitch Thorp has made a strong start to the season, kicking 11 goals in his opening three games.
The midfield looms as a key battleground with North Launceston’s Whitford, Bradley Cox-Goodyer and Josh Ponting taking on Launceston’s Jobi Harper, Tim Bristow and Brodie Palfreyman.
Tip: North Launceston by 12 points.
Players to watch:
Ben Elmer (North Launceston): The recruit has made a strong start to life at his new club, kicking five goals in two games. The 2018 NTFA leading goalkicker, Elmer looms as a key target for the Bombers inside 50.
Alec Wright (Launceston): The young gun made an immediate impact in his first game of the year, kicking three goals against the Demons. Wright will likely become a key target in the forward line for the Blues alongside Mitch Thorp.
Tigers v North Hobart – Kingston Twin Ovals (Friday: 2:30pm)
Last Time They Met: North Hobart 9.4 (58) def. by Tigers 12.16 (88) Round 15, 2018 at North Hobart Oval
This will be a cracking contest between two young sides fighting for their first win of the year.
Tigers have been valiant is their opening two contests, losing to the reigning premiers North Launceston and runner-up Lauderdale. Kieren Lovell has been a shining light for the Tigers with the former Hawthorn player being prolific in the midfield. Matthew Ryan, Blake McCulloch and Lochie Griggs have also been fighting hard for the winless Tigers.
North Hobart were competitive against Lauderdale and Glenorchy before producing a disappointing performance against Launceston last week. The Demons will be hoping to respond strongly against their emerging rivals with Nathan McCulloch, Hugh Williams and Callum Kilpatrick leading the way.
Once again, the battle in the middle will be a big factor with Tiger midfield stars Lovell, Griggs and Ryan Matthews taking on experience of McCulloch, Sam Darley and Jayden Charlton.
Tip: Tigers by 20 points.
Players to watch:
Luke Graham (Tigers): After a breakout 2018, the Tigers’ leading goalkicker continues to be an important avenue to goal for the side. After two majors last week against the Southern Bombers, the key forward will look to continue his good form.
Callum Kilpatrick (North Hobart): The young star has made a solid start to the season, transitioning into a new role in the backline. Kilpatrick is flourishing in his new position, taking plenty of intercept marks across the first three rounds.
Clarence v Lauderdale – Blundstone Arena (Saturday: 2:00pm)
Last Time They Met: Clarence 10.9 (69) def. by Lauderdale 18.8 (116) Round 15, 2018 at Blundstone Arena
The eastern shore rivalry heats up when Clarence takes on Lauderdale in a big clash at Blundstone Arena.
The young ‘Roos are looking for their first win of the year after a competitive battle against North Launceston and a disappointing result against an in-form Glenorchy. Clarence have shown plenty of promise in their opening two contests with Round two debutants Sam Banks, Adrian Butterworth, Tyler Penwright and Oliver Preshaw showing they belong in the side. Recruits Ethan Jackson and Blair Rubock have also been important inclusions for the ‘Roos.
Despite their inaccuracy in front of goal, Lauderdale have made an impressive start to 2019, defeating North Hobart, Launceston and Tigers in their opening contests of the season. Skipper Bryce Walsh has led the way in the midfield alongside Sam Siggins, Rhys Sutton and Phil Bellchambers.
Experience could be a key factor in this contest with the ‘Roos’ young stars taking on the might of the 2018 TSL Grand Finalists.
Tip: Lauderdale by 40 points.
Players to watch:
Oscar Paprotny (Clarence): After a strong pre-season, the young gun is starting to produce results. Paprotny was one of the ‘Roos’ best against Glenorchy, kicking a goal and making his presence felt on the field. Coach Jeromey Webberley is expecting a big season from the youngster.
Bryce Walsh (Lauderdale): The skipper has made a strong start to season after an injury-interrupted 2018, proving how valuable he is to the Southern Bombers’ midfield brigade. One of the competition’s premier midfielders, Walsh could give Clarence coach Jeromey Webberley a big headache.