A spot in the 2019 Bupa TSL Grand Final is on the line, and footy fans have a cracking contest to look forward to. We break down what to expect in Saturday’s Preliminary Final blockbuster between Lauderdale and Launceston.
Game details: 2:00pm Saturday 14 September 2019 at Blundstone Arena
Overall head-to-head (2019): Lauderdale – 11 (2) | Launceston – 9 (1)
Round 2, 2019: Lauderdale 15.14 (104) def. Launceston 10.11 (71) – Skybus Oval
Round 8, 2019: Launceston 10.8 (68) def. Lauderdale 12.14 (86) – Windsor Park
Round 16, 2019: Launceston 17.10 (112) def. Lauderdale 10.8 (68) – Windsor Park
Look forward to…
Battle of the contested beasts: The key strength for both Lauderdale and Launceston is their brigade of contested midfield beasts. Lauderdale house Bryce Walsh, Phil Bellchambers, Sam Siggins and Nat Franklin; while Launceston boast the likes of Tim Bristow, Jobi Harper, Brodie Palfreyman and Fletcher Seymour. Territory and contested footy is king on the finals stage, meaning getting on top at the coal face will be decisive in determining the final result.
Tall timber tussle: This Preliminary Final presents the competition’s two form ruckmen in Haydn Smith and Hamish Leedham in the same contest. Smith is dominant across the park and likes to use his size and strength to bully opposition. Leedham is a similarly versatile player, making this ruck battle one of the game’s most decisive match-ups.
Firepower: Thorp. Riley. Gillbee. McGuinness. This game offers up an exciting range of attacking options, with both outfits capable of piling on big scores in short periods of time. If the game opens up, both sides have the capacity to take the contest away from the other.
Players to watch:
Henry Kerinaiua (Lauderdale): One of the competition’s most exciting small forwards, Kerinaiua will look to use his speed, footy smarts and crafty goal sense on the wide expanses of Blundstone Arena. Can wreak havoc on opposition defences, and what better time to do it than a Preliminary Final?
Bryce Walsh (Lauderdale): Last weekend’s Semi Final loss was a dirty day for Lauderdale, but skipper Bryce Walsh can hold his head high after an industrious performance. The Bomber bull leads by example and will bring it all to the table for another shot at North Launceston in a Grand Final. Expect Walsh to play a big role in a star-studded midfield battle.
Jobi Harper (Launceston): Finals footy appears to be Jobi Harper’s modus operandi. The 2013 Baldock Medallist is having a sensational season and approaches this weekend in scintillating form. A dominant ball winner, Harper can hit the scoreboard and carry his teammates on his shoulder. Will be up for what promises to be one hell of a midfield dogfight.
Mitch Thorp (Launceston): The 2018 Hudson Medallist kicked seven when these two teams last met in round 16 and looms as a dangerman for the Bombers. The Launceston coach went goalless last weekend, and with the Blues boasting a range of attacking options, may be able to get off the chain. A genuine star of the competition.
The question mark:
Lauderdale: Can the Southern Bombers regain their mojo? Lauderdale has won just one match since round 18 – a thrilling Semi Final triumph over Glenorchy. It goes without saying that Lauderdale is in desperate need to find form, with a third consecutive Grand Final appearance on the line. Lauderdale’s best football in 2019 has been the competition’s benchmark, but they will be required to lift their standard of play if they are to beat the in-form Blues.
Launceston: Can the Blues keep the momentum going? Launceston have been in dynamic form, winning their last four games on the trot. Finals footy is a different beast and its combative nature can make it difficult to sustain such form over a long period. Their best football has been dynamic, but a clash with a finals-hardened Lauderdale outfit looms as a big challenge.
Tip: Blues by 15 points. Launceston appear to be unstoppable at the moment after comprehensive finals victories over the Tigers and Glenorchy. A strong finals-ready brand of football and a wave of confidence and momentum should see the Blues prevail here and get through to their first Grand Final since 2012. Expect a stronger effort from Lauderdale, but for the visitors to be too strong.