Seven rounds have come and gone in the Bupa Tasmanian State League with all of the clubs now firmly jockeying for a position in the top five.
TSL Digital Reporter Grant Jessup looks at the key takeaways from the opening third of the 2019 season.
1. The young Dees are hanging in there
Despite a winless start to the season, North Hobart has shown glimpses of a bright future ahead.
The Demons were highly competitive in the opening two rounds of the TSL, pushing Lauderdale and Glenorchy to their limit.
Richard ‘Bear’ Robinson’s men also nearly pulled off the greatest upset in TSL history last week in a brave performance against the reigning premiers North Launceston.
However, the Dees have been cruelled by injuries to several key players.
Former Melbourne player Colin Garland has been struggling to get his body right alongside young guns Samuel Caswell and the junior Hugh Williams.
Garland and Caswell were both key figures in the Demons’ inspirational performance against North Launceston in round seven.
North Hobart’s performance against the Northern Bombers demonstrates that a fit and firing Demons outfit can challenge some of the best teams in the competition.
2. Clarence’s joeys are all class
They may have won only one game this season but there is still plenty to like about the young ‘Roos.
Clarence have had several first-year players step up into the senior team including Tyler Penwright, Oliver Preshaw, Samuel Banks and Adrian Butterworth.
Penwright and Preshaw have become key staples in the Clarence forward line while young guns Banks and Butterworth are developing nicely.
Emerging forward Blair Rubock and midfielder Ethan Jackson have also been great additions to the red and white.
The onballer has become a key cog in the ‘Roos midfield and one of their best ball users.
Jackson, Banks and Penwright headline a list of ‘Roos who have earned a call up to the Tasmanian Devils squad this season.
3. Tenacious Tigers have plenty of roar
With last week’s win pushing the Tigers into the top five, Trent Baumeler’s side are firmly in the hunt for a finals berth.
The yellow and black army has been competitive against some of the TSL’s most impressive teams including Glenorchy and Lauderdale.
Tigers have plenty of contributors across the ground that are pulling their weight.
Kieran Lovell has been an amazing recruit for the Tigers, with the former Hawthorn midfielder becoming a dominant force in the TSL.
Key midfielder Lochie Griggs is taking his game to another level this season, while veteran Marcus Davies is leading the defence ably alongside Will Poland and Blake McCulloch
Forwards Tyler Carter, Luke Graham and Michael Paul are also proving to be a handful for opposition sides.
Coach Trent Baumler will be hoping his young side can continue to develop and cement a spot in the top five.
4. Thorp’s Blues are travelling nicely
Since his appointment as senior coach, key forward Mitch Thorp has sought to mould his team into what he perceives is the future of the Launceston Football Club.
Thorp’s vision for the Blues appears to be promising with Launceston currently sitting fourth on the ladder.
The midfield unit of Jobi Harper, Hamish Leedham, Brodie Palfreyman and Tim Bristow have been critical to the Blues’ success.
Fletcher Seymour has been an important addition to the Blues with the key midfielder dominating in the middle.
The Blues are also performing well on the road, with two of the side’s three wins coming from away games against Tigers and North Hobart.
5. Wounded Magpies are off to a great start
Glenorchy’s 100th year could one of its finest, with the Magpies firmly establishing themselves as one of the teams to beat early in 2019.
A loss to North Launceston is the only blimp on Glenorchy’s radar thus far.
What makes the Magpies’ success more extraordinary is their injury list.
Daniel Joseph, Mitch Rainbird and Clinton French are just some of the quality players that Glenorchy have been without this year.
However, the recent loss of captain Brayden Webb to a season-ending knee injury is a big blow for the Magpies.
Nevertheless, young guns such as Ben Kamaric and James Webb will keep working hard for the black and white army.
The Magpies’ depth has been impressive with plenty of young kids taking the opportunity to fill the gaps left by injuries.
6. Windy’s Bombers may go all the way
Lauderdale have made a strong start to the 2019 TSL season and have shown that they are more than capable of making it to the Grand Final for the third straight year.
The Southern Bombers have made some strong additions this season with superstar Sam Siggins tearing the TSL apart.
Midfielder Sam Burge has also been a great pick up from the Eastlake Demons in the ACT.
The only blemish on the Bombers’ record has been a loss to Glenorchy in a tight contest.
Nevertheless, Darren Winter’s battle-hardened side is well-drilled and capable of beating any side in the competition.
7. Premiers still strong despite list turnover
Before the 2019 TSL season began, there was a summer exodus at North Launceston.
Quality players like Zach Burt, Tom Bennett, Jake Pearce, Mark Walsh and Michael Tang were all big losses for the Northern Bombers.
However, new recruits have stood up to fill the gap left by these departures.
Ben Elmer, Braden van Buuren and Liam Davies have all been handy additions for the reigning premiers.
Other key players have stood up with skipper Brad Cox-Goodyer in arguably career-best form.
2018 Alistair Lynch Medallist Josh Ponting, forward Dakota Bannister and playing-coach Taylor Whitford are also in fine form.
The experience and class of North Launceston has ensured that the premiers are sitting pretty on the top of the table.