Fascinating Round 2 In Store After Tight Opening Round
South will be eyeing this as a prime chance to try to pull away and put early pressure on their rivals and after their impressive opening last week they probably have to be considered the way too early favourites.
Round 1 showed there isn’t a heap between a number of sides this year and we might just be headed to our closest fought NPL season yet. Titles aren’t won in March, but they can certainly be lost and if teams were to drop points in consecutive weeks it could spell trouble for their aspirations. That should lead to some extra pressure on a number of teams heading into round 2 and make for some crunch clashes.
The round kicks off on Friday night with Hobart Zebras taking on Clarence at KGV with both sides looking for their first victories of the season. Zebras claimed a 2-2 draw on Saturday against Devonport and will fancy themselves to take the points against a side they went 3/3 from in season 2016.
The Reds showed they will be a tough side to break down in their 1-1 draw against Rangers however and Zebras certainly won’t be expecting anything to come easy to them in this one. These are two bruising, physical sides, so expect a tough physical contest under the lights of KGV with Zebras to control more of the possession and the Clarence rearguard, set to be led by Odaine Demar and Matthew Lewis to be put under pressure.
The availability of Luke Huigsloot, who is under doubt after copping a head knock last week could be a big factor, he was pivotal to how the Zebras set up and without him they will need to change their approach.
On Saturday Ian Shaw returns to the Den for the first time since defecting from the Kingborough to take up the coaching role at Olympia midway through last season. Olympia were stunned 3-0 by South Hobart on opening night last Friday and will be desperate to bounce back to winning ways with three points against the Lions.
A loss would see them cede further early ground in the title race and put them in danger of falling into a similar hole to which they fell in 2016 and never recovered from.
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Round 2 Fixtures
Hobart Zebras v Clarence, Friday 17 March, 8:00PM, KGV
Kingborough Lions v Olympia FC Warriors, Saturday 18 March, 2:00pm, Lightwood Park
Devonport v Launceston City, Saturday 18 March, 4:30pm, Valley Road
South Hobart v Northern Rangers, Sunday 19 March, 2:00pm, Darcy Street