The venue will be the same, the clubs will be the same but the contest should be very different.
That’s the expectation of Launceston coach Mitch Thorp ahead of Saturday’s Elimination Final between his Blues and the Tigers at Windsor Park.
Launceston downed the Tigers by seven points last weekend in a see-sawing contest that saw the Blues kick four goals to one in the second term and the Tigers kick eight goals to one in the third.
Thorp is expecting a different sort of contest seven-days on.
“It was a pretty boring game, there were lots of players around the ball and a lot of stoppages and I don’t think it was a true reflection of each team’s brand of footy,” Thorp said.
“There is going to be a lot more ball movement and free-flowing football. It was a pretty contested game last week in really windy conditions. The forecast for this week is really good, which should lend itself to some good finals football – I dare say it will be nice and hot at the contest and when the ball gets out, there will be some sharp ball movement once its outside the stoppage.”
The Blues went into last weekend’s game without co-captain Jay Blackberry, RACT Insurance Player of the Year runner-up Fletcher Seymour and dynamic forward Dylan Riley – all of whom were managing injuries.
With these three expected to return, on top of Tasmania Devils co-captain Jared Dakin, it is clear that the Blues will have a new-look this weekend for a clash with plenty riding on it. The Tigers will also welcome back Kieran Lovell and Marcus Davies, although defenders Jarryd Drew and Will Poland will miss due to injury.
“Jared will come in after coming back from a shoulder reconstruction. He played for the Devils last week and had 26 disposals, 10 inside 50s and a goal, so we are looking forward to getting him back in the side. He’s captain of the Devils, so it is really exciting to have him back in.”
“The Tigers have played some good footy and obviously knocked off North Launceston. They are a quality team and qualified for finals, so they are doing something right.
“We just need to focus on what we can control. We have had a good season to date and we need to continue that heading into this week.”
The Blues will have added incentive with the 150th game milestone of 2011 Tassie Medalist Tim Bristow and the first final at Windsor Park in 11 years.
“We are grateful that we have a home final. It’s our first time having a home final at Windsor Park in 11 years, plus it’s Tim Bristow’s 150th and life membership game.
“We have plenty to play for and we will just be worrying about ourselves and our own preparations. We will throw the kitchen sink at it and see where that leaves us.”
This game comes off the back of Thorp signing a one-year contract extension that will take him into 2021 with the option to lead the club into 2022 as well.
“It’s been a really exciting year,” Thorp said.
“11 wins for the year has probably exceeded our expectations for how we would go. The group has been fantastic and we are looking forward to seeing how far we can go in September.
“The club came to me halfway through the year and we were pretty happy with how things were going and the relationships we’d built throughout the year and the chemistry and culture that we have.
“I’m on for another two or three years, which is really exciting. It gives us a bit of stability and we can recruit knowing what our coaching group and playing group looks like.”