South Hobart and Devonport are set to meet for the fourth time this season in what looms as one of the last major hurdles standing between the Strikers and the coveted league title.
Northern Rangers v Olympia, Saturday 16 July, NTCA Ground, 12.30PM
Last Time They Met: NPL TAS Round 12, Olympia 3-0 Northern Rangers, Warrior Park
League Form: Northern Rangers: LLLLL Olympia: WWLLL
Another early kick off at the NTCA ground to begin the round as Northern Rangers continue their search for a first win of the season with a game against the Olympia Warriors.
Last time the two teams met at this venue Rangers came close to causing a boil over before a hat-trick from Nick Mearns secured the Warriors the three points. Mearns has looked a little underdone in the past couple of weeks and the Warriors goal threat has subsided without him at his best.
The big news heading into this game was Glen Mcneill announcing he is standing down at seasons end as the coach of the Warriors. It will be interesting to see how it affects the playing group, will they lift to see their coach out on a high? or will it see the Warriors players struggle for motivation knowing he is not the man who will be picking them next season?
South Hobart V Devonport, Saturday 16 July, Darcy St, 2:00PM
Last Time They Met: NPL TAS Round 12, Devonport 2-0 South Hobart, Valley Road
League Form: South Hobart: WLLWW Devonport: WWWWW
If Devonport were to win this game, then an upset would be required from a side lower down the table in the final weeks to make it possible for the second placed Zebras to catch the Strikers, with the gap currently sitting at four points. This means that even if Zebras were able to defeat Devonport at Valley Road in two weeks’ time, then they would still need another team to do them a favour by taking points from Devonport.
That is why this game looms as such a key, South Hobart are the only other side in the league that has looked like getting close to Devonport this year and capable of taking points from them. If Devonport win this game, it would be a massive step towards securing the title. They will enter this game on an NPL record 11 match winning streak and having beaten South Hobart all three times they have met in 2016.
Clarence United v Launceston City, Saturday 16 July, Wentworth Park, 4:30pm
Last Time They Met: NPL TAS Round 12, Clarence 2-0 Launceston City
League Form: Clarence: LWLLL Launceston City: LLWWL
The Reds and Launceston City prepare to meet at the same venue they played against each other at just a month ago. On that occasion it was Clarence who took the points, winning 2-0 in a physical contest that could have gone either way. Since that game they have lost all three of their games whilst City responded with a pair of wins before falling to Kingborough last weekend.
Clarence have continued to struggle to put out a consistent starting eleven on a weekly basis due to a combination of injuries, suspensions and player availability but on their day they have proven themselves to be a tough side to break down and on their home pitch at Wentworth Park they will fancy themselves having beaten City just a month ago.
Hobart JEEP Zebras v Kingborough Lions, Sunday 17 July, KGV, 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: NPL TAS Round 12, Kingborough Lions 2-3 Hobart Zebras, Lightwood Park
League Form: Hobart Zebras: LWWWW Kingborough Lions: WLWLW
The Hobart JEEP Zebras will be hoping that South Hobart can do them a favour on the Saturday and that they enter this clash on Sunday with a chance to make up some ground on the Strikers.
Regardless of Saturday’s results, this looms as a massive game against a much improved Lions team that will be confident, coming off a 4-1 win over Launceston City. It looms as a danger game for the Zebras who got out of jail the last time they met, overturning a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 in a controversial game.
Another slow start could spell an end to their title hopes and despite a storming second 45 against Rangers; these slow starts must be of concern to Chris Hey. The Lions meanwhile will be looking to string 2 consecutive win’s together for the first time in 2016. It won’t be easy up against a strong Zebras team and it would be an upset should they do it, but at their best they certainly appear capable of it.
CLICK HERE for a full Round 16 preview.