Friday 23rd June
North Launceston vs Launceston (UTAS Stadium) 7:00pm
Last Time They Met: North Launceston 19.17.131 def Launceston 7.7.46 (Round 3, 2017, at Windsor Park)
After a couple of close losses in a row, North Launceston bounced back in convincing fashion with a strong win over Hobart City Demons last week. Launceston put the young Burnie Dockers to the sword at West Park on Saturday, running out 119 point winners. Last time the two Northern sides faced off, North Launceston handed the Blues a hiding, with Zac Burt and Tom Couch combining for 11 goalsbut it was Brad Cox Goodyer who was most dominant, collecting the Adam Sanders medal for best on ground.
North Launceston remain on top of the ladder and very much premiership favourites, albeit having played one more game than the second-placed Clarence. Playing their favoured brand of high-scoring and free-flowing football last week pleased coach Tom Couch, who celebrated his birthday with a seven goal haul despite playing predominantly through the midfield. Taylor Whitford and usual defender Jay Lockhart both had plenty of the ball in the middle, dominating against the Demons onballers. Whiford booted three, as did dominant forwards Brad Cox-Goodyer and Bart McCulloch. Ruckman Alex Lee was solid all day, as were Tyran Mansell and Zac Burt playing behind the ball.
Launceston enhanced their reputation as dark horses with a dominant win over Burnie, and now sit a game clear in third place. Rulla Kelly-Mansell was a handful up forward all day for the hapless Docker defenders, booting seven goals from over a dozen shots on goal, as well as taking a mark of the year contender in the goalsquare. Sam Lonergan and Jake Smith chimed in with three majors each, with Lonergan seemingly fully recovered from a calf complaint as he racked up the disposals through the midfield. Jay Blackberry bounced back from a quiet state game to hurt Burnie with his damaging ball use, and Brodie Palfreyman was strong all day through the middle. Hamish Leedham continued to impress in the ruck, and his contest against the improving Alex Lee on Friday night will be one to watch.
North Launceston will enter the clash under lights as favourites, but Launceston will be full of confidence following a strong run of form. Both the Bombers and the Blues boast a scarily good midfield and forward line, with hard running defenders also a staple in both sides. This game will be decided by a much lesser margin than when they met in Round 3, and don’t be surprised if a shootout takes place. This game is not to be missed for any footy fan anywhere near Launceston on Friday night.
Saturday 24th June
Devonport vs Burnie (Devonport Oval) 1:00pm
Last Time They Met: Burnie 17.17.119 def Devonport 13.10.88 (Round 3, 2017, at West Park)
Devonport held Glenorchy to just 10 goals last week, going down by 37 points in an admirable performance. Burnie, on the other hand, were severely outclassed by a relentless Launceston to the tune of 119 points at home. Last time these two coastal sides met, the Dockers prevailed in windy conditions, with youngster Blair Rubock snaring four goals.
Devonport have been improving every week, and would fancy themselves heading into the clash at Devonport Oval. Co-captain Beau Sharman has been in great form over the past month, finding the ball both inside and running hard to provide an option in space. He’s been well supported by Dylan Riley and Brad Symmons, who have ensured that the Magpies won’t be easily pushed aside in the midfield. Symmons will miss this week after a high bump saw him suspended this week, which will give another young player the chance to step up. Mitch Thorp was a focal point up forward, kicking two goals, while Brayden Butler looks increasingly at home at senior level, with the 50-gamer now firmly entrenched in the Magpies’ on-field leaders.
In a disappointing day for Burnie last Saturday, there were a number of upsides. Playing coach Clint Proctor played his best match of the season, with leadership group players Rudi Barrett, Tyrone Morrison and Harry Walters all solid contributors. Walters kicked two goals, while James Dowling managed one major as the teenager led from the front in the midfield. Samuel Kalbfell continues to improve, as does Bailey Boag, with a host of other first and second year players also showing glimpses of impressive play.
It has been a long first half of the season for both coastal sides as they continue to blood youth as they look towards the future. Burnie took the chocolates in Round 3, but hosting the rematch provides Devonport with the perfect chance to claim their maiden victory of season 2017. The Magpies are in better form, having displayed their ability to stay with sides across the majority of matches in recent weeks. Expect a close and physical game, as bragging rights as well as the chance to avoid the wooden spoon are up for grabs at Devonport Oval.
Lauderdale vs Clarence (Lauderdale Oval) – Stay ChatTY Cup 2:00pm
Last Time They Met: Clarence 19.7.121 def Lauderdale 13.11.89 (Round 3, 2017, at Blundstone Arena)
Lauderdale come into this week off the bye, having stunned North Launceston by defeating them by a point in Round 10. Clarence outclassed the Tigers at Twin Ovals last Saturday, with a strong team effort keeping them within striking distance of top spot on the ladder. Last time the two Eastern Shore rivals met, Jake Cox slotted six goals from the wing in Trent Standen’s 150th game as a scarily accurate Clarence overran a determined Lauderdale outfit at Blundstone Arena.
Lauderdale have proven to be the surprise packet of 2017 to date, with the Bombers having won their last six matches. Their most impressive victory to date came over North Launceston in Round 10, with midfielders Nat Franklin and Bryce Walsh sensational as they racked up contested possessions against a strong onball brigade. Thor Boscott was again fantastic rotating between the midfield and forward line, kicking two goals, but he was suspended for striking and will miss Saturday’s crucial clash. Ryan Wiggins and the long-kicking Alex Hevey booted three goals apiece, with Walsh also running hard out of the middle for three of his own. Phil Bellchambers and Josh McGuinness continued to build on their impressive seasons, as did the underrated Rhys Sutton.
Clarence were too good for a resilient Tigers outfit last Saturday, finishing strongly to overpower the Kingborough outfit in impressive fashion. Veteran midfielders Brady Jones and Jeromey Webberley provided plenty of run and damaging disposal, with the latter unfortunately injuring his hamstring late in the match which will see him miss this week. Michael Blackburn and Mariner Zac Buechner both kicked three goals, with Buechner growing in confidence with every senior match he plays. Experienced forwards Trent Standen and Ian Callinan were both dangerous and finished with two goals apiece, while defenders Jason Bailey and James Holmes shut down the Tiger forwards with their intercept marking and penetrating kicks. Early season standout Jake Cox is rumoured to be returning from a long term injury, but don’t be surprised if he doesn’t pull on the boots just yet.
This game is huge for both clubs as they strive to stay in their respective positions on the ladder in a tight top five. Both sides are missing key players in Boscott and Webberley, but the depth of each side is impressive. Both proud clubs pride themselves on being the number one Eastern Shore side, so expect plenty of physicality and feeling across the four quarters. This game could go either way, and the winning team will need their kicking boots on as all forward chances need to be capitalised on. The winner of the match will be awarded the coveted Stay ChatTY Cup, named after the Tasmanian not-for-profit charity which raises awareness for suicide prevention.
Hobart City Demons vs Tigers (North Hobart Oval) 2:00pm
Last Time They Met: Tigers 10.7.67 def Hobart City Demons 8.15.64 (Round 3, 2017, at Twin Ovals)
The Tigers were competitive against Clarence in two of the four quarters last week, but ultimately went down by 61 points at home. Hobart City Demons were humbled by an impressive North Launceston at UTAS Stadium after leading at quarter time, eventually losing by 66 points. Last time these two sides met, the Tigers led narrowly at every change to defeat an inaccurate Hobart City Demons by just the three points.
The Tigers fought hard in patches against a more-fancied Clarence outfit last week, but were unable to run with the Roos in the final term. Mitchell Carter solidified his reputation as one of the best defenders in the competition, with another strong rebounding game. Mariner duo Lachlan Gadomski and Toby Cowen put in inspired performances in the midfield in the absence of the hard-tackling Lachie Clifford, with Cowen’s clean disposal a highlight. Marcus Davies relished the physical contest to influence the game around the ground, while Brandon Batchelor worked his way into the game in his first game back from a broken foot. He finished with two hard-fought goals, as did high marking target Mitch Walker.
Hobart City Demons had a week they’d rather forget, but there were plenty of positives to be taken out of last week’s loss to North Launceston. Callum Kilpatrick has a breakout game, kicking two first term goals to keep the Demons in the contest early and finishing with four for the match. Ryan Matthews was a strong performer all afternoon, as was Liam Azzopardi in shutting down the dangerous Tom Bennett. Josh Williamson was dangerous at times, kicking two goals, while hard-running midfielder Eddie Cole also managed two for the day.
This game is shaping up to be a great contest, with both sides having won four games apiece this season. Both team look to have improved on last season, with a high number of young players now playing regular senior football. The Tigers snatched the win last time, but at their best, Hobart City Demons have been impressive, and have taken more-valued scalps so far this year. The game is likely to be decided by a margin of under four goals, with the result likely to define the winning side’s chance of snatching a finals position late in the season.