In the opening game of the round Clarence will look to improve upon their recent performances against Devonport, having been soundly defeated by them twice already in their 2017 meetings.
A 5-0 loss at home and 10-1 thumping back in round 13 at Valley Road doesn’t exactly inspire confidence for the Reds, but Devonport will be minus star defender Raphael Reynolds through suspension and Brayden Mann’s injury from last week makes him a highly unlikely starter.
With those key omissions and a patchy past 6 weeks, going 1-1-4 since that demolition job over Clarence, the Strikers may just be vulnerable. Though the way South are playing right now the heavy loss at their hands last week, capitulating after going down to 10 men probably shouldn’t be read into too much. Minus those 2 key players they still comfortably dispatched Rangers 4-0 in Round 18 with Michael Holden dominating. In their Wentworth Park meeting Holden absolutely torched Clarence down the left flank and he looms as the key game breaker again.
The Reds scrapped their way to a victory over Kingborough last week, finally overcoming the Lions in the 89th minute though they should had the game wrapped up much sooner. Clarence claimed 11 points last season, so they have held pretty steady by collecting 12 this year but they are still yet to claim a top four scalp over their 2 years in the competition.
With Devonport and the Warriors in the next two weeks, they get their chance to do that, otherwise it will go down as a year of stagnation, rather than the steady improvement they were seeking.
In the second game on Saturday the surging Launceston City will look to extend their winning streak to five games as they play host to Olympia. With the Warriors held at home by City’s cross town rivals Rangers last week, City will certainly have the belief that they can take down another top four side and continue their impressive run of form.
With a trip to South Hobart looming on the final day and Rangers facing a winnable game against the Lions this week, they may well need the three points to hold onto fifth place on the table.
The last time they met Olympia they were absolutely smashed 8-1 and it was from the ashes of that defeat that this late season renaissance was born. Now they get to show how far they have come and look to redeem themselves against an Olympia side that looked rather flat last Sunday.
That could certainly be attributed to the FFA Cup hangover though and with the battle for second place in full swing they need to take points from Buckby Landrover Park to defend second spot from Devonport. That task that will be made harder by the suspension of Lucas Hill but there is still plenty of quality in the side and City will need to be watchful of Jakub Sklenar who will be looking to put his likely Golden Boot win beyond all doubt.
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