Southern Cross TSL Preview with Alex FitzGerald – Round 3
Written by Alex FitzGerald
Friday 14th April – Good Friday
Burnie vs Devonport (West Park) 1:00pm
Last Time They Met: Burnie 12.11.83 def Devonport 10.14.74 (Round 19, 2016, at West Park)
Burnie are coming off a 62 point Round 2 away loss to Launceston, and will be looking forward to their first home game at West Park. Devonport are heading into the match following a demoralising 154 point defeat at the hands of last year’s Premiers Glenorchy, with the young side unable to score their second goal until the final quarter against the southern powerhouse.
Recent history has shown that ladder positions mean little when the two sides from the coast meet, with all three encounters last season decided by under four goals. Last time they met, retiring Docker great Kade Munday was best afield in a close win for Burnie, with young Tom Mundy playing well also. Devonport was well served by Beau Sharman and Dylan Riley, who are now the Magpies’ co-captains. Given that both sides are yet to open their account in 2017 and that the Dockers are fielding a significantly younger side than last season, this game could shape up to be the contest of the round.
With coastal pride on the line, expect players from both sides to step up and play to their potential this week. Mundy and Blair Rubock are the young Dockers in the middle leading the way so far in 2017, and veteran Clint Proctor has been more than able support across half back. While yet to fire this season, the Burnie forward line has the ability to be potent, with Jamieson House kicking 4 goals last week, Nick McKenna booting 3 in the opening match, and both the Walters brothers, Nick and Harry, capable of long range goals from half forward.
For Devonport, the younger players who have turned heads early have been Mitchell Perry and Dylan Schnoor, with Ben Hawkes also impressing last week in the heavy defeat. Co-captains Sharman and Riley have led by example, and must lift another level again at West Park on Saturday. The Magpies have plenty of potential in their forward line, and will be hoping targets Brodie Connelly and Giacomo Milluci can kick a number of goals between them with Mitch Thorp expected to miss up to a month of football. Although in a curve ball the playing-coach has been named as an emergency but logic would say that is merely a mind game from Thorp.
Another close coastal derby seems likely, with Burnie slightly favoured due to the loss of Thorp and the home ground advantage, having only lost two matches at West Park last season. The outcome may rely on which forward line delivers on their obvious talent, and which young side is prepared to contest the hardest in the latter stages of the game.
Tigers vs Hobart City Demons (Twin Ovals) 2:00pm
Last Time They Met: Hobart City Demons 15.15.105 def Tigers 9.8.62 (Round 20, 2016, at Twin Ovals)
Tigers FC have started the season with a win over Burnie in windy conditions, and a close loss to an impressive Clarence in the mud. While last week’s match wasn’t ideal for the fast-paced style the Tigers play, they were able to break free in patches, and will look to run Hobart City Demons off their feet this week.
The roster hasn’t done the Hobart City Demons any favours, meeting 2016 Grand Finalists Glenorchy and North Launceston in the first fortnight of the season, resulting in consecutive heavy defeats. They can take solace in the fact that they led the Magpies at quarter time, and matched the Bombers until the final quarter last week, and will be looking to put four consistent quarters together as they hunt their first victory of 2017 this weekend.
Despite the tough loss last weekend and the five day turnaround, the Tigers have plenty of positives to take into this match. Their strength in moving the ball quickly from one end of the ground to the other has stood out, and they’ll be relying on Mitchell Carter to continue his impressive rebounding from half back, and Ash Humprey to negate any forward targets. The Tigers’ forward line is full of talent, with the strong-marking Brandon Batchelor and Mitch Walker with five goals apiece so far, and young Hugh Dixon coming off an eye-catching two goals display for the Tassie Mariners. Lachie Clifford was also best afield for the Mariners with a crucial three goal high possession game from the midfield.
Hobart City Demons have had some impressive young players step up against tough opponents, with Will Campbell standing out, supported by Eddie Cole and Bailey Walker. While a few injuries haven’t helped their start to the season, the Hobart City Demons will need key playmakers such as Ryan Matthews, Kane Richter, and Brodie Schade to stand up and lead from the front this week if they are to topple the rejuvenated Tigers.
The Tigers play to the conditions well at Twin Ovals, and will look to run and carry all afternoon to provide quick delivery to their tall forwards but the Demons are also exponents of quick ball movement when they are on song. Negating the influence of Carter, as well as the Tiger forwards, will be the key to victory for the Hobart City Demons. They also need Josh Williamson to have an impact in the forward 50. The battle between the younger players will also decide who comes out on top, expect Tigers FC to just come out on top in the closest match of the season so far.
Launceston vs North Launceston (Windsor Park) 1:00pm
Last Time They Met: North Launceston 18.12.118 def Launceston 4.7.31 (Round 19, 2016, at Windsor Park)
North Launceston have been pushed in both of their matches in the first half so far, before putting on the jets in the third quarter and running away comfortable winners against Lauderdale and Hobart City Demons respectively. Widely regarded as Premiership favourites, North Launceston have not got ahead of themselves, and would be happy going about their business while the hype builds around Glenorchy’s two sizeable victories.
Launceston have perhaps been the most impressive side of 2017 so far, outmuscling coastal sides Devonport and Burnie over the past fortnight. Both matches featured strong performances by almost every Blues player, with a rebounding backline, deep midfield group and a forward line full of agile goal kickers. To push the Bombers in this Northern derby would give Launceston great confidence heading into the rest of the season.
North Launceston have started relatively slowly in both of their matches so far, and will look to put goals on the board early this week. The Bombers welcome back Tom Couch from an ankle injury he sustained during an impressive debut for the Bombers in Round 1, and will also be bolstered by the return of captain Taylor Whitford, who will play his 100th match for the club. Tarryn Thomas also returns from AFL Academy representative duties, and will slot into a young forward line consisting of dangerous targets Mark Walsh and Thomas Bennett.
Launceston have the midfield to match the Bombers’, with Sam Lonergan likely to match up on Couch, and Jay Blackberry, playing his 150th match, in strong form. The Blues’ backline has been superb, with Jack Donnellan, Jordan Harris and Corey Shepherd running the ball out of danger zones confidently over the past fortnight. They will be joined by half back Jake Hinds, who racked up possessions for the Tassie Mariners last weekend, and impressive young ruckman Tim Auckland. The forward line at Windsor Park is the most intimidating in the TSL, with Sonny Whiting coming off a 7 goal haul in Round 2 and Rulla Kelly-Mansell often ruling the aerial contests and dishing off some great goal assists.
This clash should be the most exciting northern derby in years, with both teams coming in with 2 wins apiece and in a rich vein of form. Launceston most definitely have a sniff at victory here, especially if their forward line gets going. The return of Couch and Whitford will help the smaller Bombers in their physical battle with the Blues, and fittingly it may be the key ins that help get North Launceston over the line at the final siren. With no other footy on in the north, one would expect a massive crowd at Windsor Park.
Saturday 15th April
Clarence vs Lauderdale (Blundstone Arena) 2:00pm
Last Time They Met: Lauderdale 16.16.112 def Clarence 10.9.69 (Round 16, 2016, at Lauderdale Oval)
Clarence head into their second match of season having defeated the Tigers in a high scoring match in the mud last week. An all-round team effort saw the Roos lead at every change, and with a 10 goal second half against an improved Tigers side, they looked far from the team that missed finals in 2016.
Lauderdale are coming off the bye, and were defeated in a physical clash by North Launceston at home in Round 1, which saw three players reported and defender Toutai Havea suspended for one match. The Bombers kicked away to a shock lead early in that game, but were overrun by a fitter North Launceston side, and will be determined to redeem themselves this week after a long break.
Clarence recruited heavily going in this season, and it was no shock to fans when Jackson O’Brien, Sam Siggins and Michael Fisher turned it on against the Tigers. Siggins was a man-mountain in the ruck last week, and twice threw his opponent off the ball to twice kick crucial goals. Midfielders Jake Cox and Brady Jones picked up in Round 2 where they left off last season, and will look to give the forwards fast delivery from the stoppages. Young Roos Zach Buechner and James Brenner were among the Mariners’ best against the GWS Academy side last week, and could have an influence if called upon, alongside youngster Tyson Hanslow. It will also be a significant game for Trent Standen, who will lineup for game 150 in the red and white.
Lauderdale have a strong young group with the potential to serve it up to Clarence, and will welcome former Brisbane-listed player Ben McGuinness in for his first game of the season. Thor Boscott had a great start to his 100th game in Round 1, and will need to pair up well with captain Bryce Walsh to win the ball out of the middle against an experienced Clarence group. Dylan Fyfe is in strong form, as is Nat Franklin, who had his 2016 season ruined by injury, and they both have the potential to break the game open if left unattended. Lauderdale have two massive ins with Josh McGuinness playing his first match for Lauderdale since leaving the Brisbane Lions and Ryan Wiggins returning from a brief stint in Victoria. These inclusions are massive for Lauderdale’s spine, McGuinness adds a significant presence to the Bombers backs, he reads it well and is a leader. Wiggins provides a vital forward target to kick to and he has game breaking ability.
Sam Siggins made headlines last year when he crossed over from Lauderdale to Clarence and one would expect some extra attention for Siggins, when the two fierce rivals go toe to toe on Saturday. His involvement adds an extra layer to an already juicy matchup between two teams that simply do not like each other.
The Bombers love to play a physical brand of football, but they’ll meet their match in Clarence, who manhandled the Tigers at times last week. Lauderdale have speed on their side, and when they get going they have the ability to kick goals in quick succession. The Roos tend to play the long game, and pace themselves across a whole match, and if both of these tendencies play out, the final quarter could be telling in what is sure to be a fiery clash at Blundstone Arena. Its a must watch match and you can watch it live wherever you are with our live stream!