Round 18 of the Bupa Tasmanian State League season looms as something of a rivalry round, with three huge games set to help shape the make-up of the final five.
Launceston v North Launceston – Windsor Park (Saturday 1:30pm)
Last time they met: North Launceston 14.16 (100) def. Launceston 4.7 (31) – Round 11, 2019 at UTAS Stadium
Round two 2014 to round 11 2019. That’s the current winning streak North Launceston hold over its cross-town rival, an unwanted record the Blues will be looking to break this weekend when the two sides compete for the Phil Edwards Cup.
Launceston has been one of the form teams of the competition across the last month, with last weekend’s shock loss to North Hobart the side’s only blemish in quite some time.
The Northern Bombers, meanwhile, will be looking to come back from the bye with a win after overcoming the ‘Roos a fortnight ago.
The midfield battle, as always will be crucial, with the battle of Seymour/Harper/Bristow against Cox-Goodyer/Whitford/Tepper a tantalising one.
This battle at the source will be particularly valuable with the two teams boasting dynamic, multi-pronged forward lines.
The Blues will make a response after last weekend’s defeat, but North Launceston always seem to find another gear in Launceston derbies.
This promises to be a much closer affair than round 11 was, however.
Players to watch:
Launceston – Casey Brown
The talented wingman is putting together a strong 2019 season after being named in the Tasmania Devils state U25 team. Likely to go against a Liam Davies, Brown’s speed and usage inside 50 will be crucial once again.
North Launceston – Braden van Buuren
The hard-running half back has quickly become one of the Northern Bombers’ more important players, with his ball use further enhancing an already potent contingent of North Launceston rebounding defenders.
Tip: Northern Bombers by six points
Clarence v Lauderdale – Blundstone Arena (Saturday 2:00pm)
Last time they met: Lauderdale 16.18 (114) def. Clarence 6.8 (44) – Round 11, 2019 at Skybus Oval
Eastern Shore rivalries are always spirited affairs, and despite current ladder positions, Clarence would like nothing more than throwing a spanner into Lauderdale’s charge towards the minor premiership.
The ‘Roos have shown improvement in recent weeks, putting in gallant performances against both North Launceston and Glenorchy, while Lauderdale got back on the winners list last weekend after going down to Launceston the week before that.
The return of Jake Cox provides the ‘Roos with a big boost, however his fitness will be a point of concern after missing an extended stretch of footy. Josh McGuinness, who has successfully curbed Cox’s influence in the past, will likely get the job again, making this a crucial match-up to watch.
Lauderdale is also expected to welcome back hard-running wingman Rhys Sutton and the experienced Jacob Gillbee, with their returns set to be critical as the Bombers charge towards another finals campaign.
The Bombers successfully flaunted their attacking prowess and versatility last week, with the likes of Sam Siggins, Ryan Wiggins, Ben McGuinness and Josh McGuinness being used in a variety of roles. This plethora of attacking targets makes them a formidable force on the way to finals footy.
Clarence will throw everything at the contest, but these avenues to goal and an in-form midfield group of Bryce Walsh, Phil Bellchambers, Nat Franklin and Nic Baker looks too tough to stop.
Players to watch:
Clarence – Ryan Bailey
The 2018 Team of the Year ruckman has had a solid season, and will need to impose himself against a Lauderdale outfit controlled by Haydn Smith in the ruck. If Bailey can get on top in the ruck and impose himself around the ground, the ‘Roos will give themselves a much bigger shot at an upset win.
Lauderdale – Haydn Smith
Arguably the competition’s form ruckman, Smith looks to be having a career-best season. A competitor at ground level while also a tall, mobile target around the ground, Smith will look to get on top in the middle and provide his midfield teammates with first use.
Tip: Southern Bombers by 30 points
Tigers FC v North Hobart – Twin Ovals (Saturday 2:00pm)
Last time they met: North Hobart 10.6 (66) def. by Tigers 10.11 (71) – Round 11, 2019 at North Hobart Oval
A healthy rivalry has built between these sides in recent years, and with the Demons in form and the Tigers eyeing off a maiden finals berth, this promises to be a cracker.
The Demons will come in full of confidence and breathing fire after being narrowly defeated by the Tigers earlier in the season.
Sam Darley up against Kieran Lovell promises to be one of the match-ups of the season, while Colin Garland and Mickey Paul at either end will also give fans plenty to enjoy.
Expect the Demons to also put plenty of time into
Both sides boast an abundance of exciting young talent, and with this rivalry only building and building, this clash promises to be an exciting one.
The Tigers, however, with an eye towards finals and more experience across the park, should get the job done.
Players to watch:
Tigers FC – Marcus Gardner
Gardner’s return to the TSL has been strong, with the tall impressing both in the ruck and as a forward target. Capable of taking a strong pack mark and hitting the scoreboard, Gardner will look to use his size and strength to exploit the Demons.
North Hobart – Bailey Walker
Fresh from keeping Mitch Thorp goalless, Bailey Walker should enter this game with plenty of confidence. Likely to get the job on Mickey Paul, Walker will have a crucial role to play if the Demons are to record an upset and continue their hot recent form.
Tip: Tigers by 24 points