Olympia Warriors travel down to the Den for a game that has some major intrigue around it following the events of the past week.
Kingborough Lions v Olympia Warriors, Saturday 23 July, Lightwood Park, 2:00PM
With Olympia snapping up the now former coach of the Lions, Ian Shaw, there is sure to be plenty of spice in this game, with some dubbing it the Ian Shaw cup. The Lions will no doubt be a motivated playing group for the game, under interim coach Mark Broadbent and looking to prove a point.
The last time the two teams met it was one of the games of the season over at Warrior Park as the Olympia Warriors overturned a 3-0 defecit at half time to emerge 4-3 winners in a classic come back.
The Warriors will come into this as favourites and high on confidence after rediscovering their goal scoring touch in a 6-0 win over Northern Rangers, despite fielding a very young side. It is a side that is about to get younger with Mitchell Stalker set to replace the injured Pasquale Gioffre in goals for this clash and with the Lions a side who like get crosses into their powerful front 2 of Cowen and Cartwright, and launch long throws into the area, it should be a stern test for him.
The Lions were below par last week against the Zebras although given how the week played out, you could make a case it was perhaps due to extenuating circumstances. They will be desperate to rebound and will surely try to maximize their physical advantage as they did so effectively the last time the sides met. The worry remains at the back where the defence has struggled to deal with fast wingers and Warren Wadawu looks a likely type to exploit that in this game.
South Hobart v Northern Rangers, Saturday 23 July, Darcy St, 2:00PM
Northern Rangers return to the venue that they may still be having nightmares over following their efforts here in round 3 when South Hobart inflicted a 12-0 thumping over them. That remains the most lop-sided game of the season. A lot has changed since that day, with South Hobart falling from early season title favourites to being seemingly out of the title race but unfortunately for Rangers their win column remains the same as it did back then.
South will be expected to win this one comfortably but barring a staggering falter from both sides above them, it will likely be for little else than pride. It may provide Morton with the chance to continue to give minutes to youngsters like Connor Schmidt and Jacob Brennan who look set to be the staples of the side for the future.
The Rangers will have a tough job hanging in there against South and it is a task made more difficult by the absences of the Lanau-Atkinson brothers. There is some positive news however with Michael Monticchio finally returned to the squad. Their boom import had not been sighted since injuring himself all the way back in round 2.
Launceston City v Devonport Strikers, Saturday 23 July, Mitsubishi Park, 4:30PM
The next hurdle for the title hopefuls in Devonport comes in the shape of a trip to Mitsubishi Park to take on a youthful Launceston City side. With just five games to go any falter now could derail the title bid but the last time the sides met here, Devonport registered a comfortable win and they will be expected to do so once again.
Devonport faltered for the first time since round 4 last Saturday, producing one of their worst performances of the season in a 1-1 draw with South Hobart. Yet despite a less than impressive display, they still didn’t concede a goal to a South Hobart player and managed to take what could yet prove to be a crucial point from a very difficult game. It made the gap at the top two points and given the goal difference, it ensured that if they were to slip up and draw a game they would still remain top if Zebras were to win in that round.
Clarence v Hobart JEEP Zebras, Sunday 24 July, Wentworth Park, 4:30PM
Hobart Zebras have hung in there and kept up the pressure on the Strikers by winning their last five games and now at last their title hopes are back in their own hands. It won’t be easy, they will need to beat both Devonport and South Hobart over the last five weeks, but first thing they have to deal with Clarence United on Sunday.
Zebras appear to be rounding nicely into form at the crunch time of the season, they have rediscovered their goal scoring touch and the front three of McKeown, Walsh and Huigsloot are starting to produce their best football. Against a Clarence back four that struggled with the pace of Launceston last week, they will surely look to exploit this. The pitch condition could play a factor and will make it tough to play pretty football, this will likely be an exercise of winning ugly but it is a game they will be expecting three points from.
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