It’s top against bottom at to kick off Round 8 of PlayStation 4 NPL Tasmania.
Hobart Zebras v Northern Rangers, KGV, Saturday 14 May, 2:00pm
After one full round of fixtures, Hobart Zebras are leading the league and they will fancy themselves to maintain that position when they host Northern Rangers in this one. The high flying Zebras dug deep to take a point off South Hobart last week, recovering from 2 goals down to maintain top spot and showed a fight and spirit that champion teams simply must possess.
Despite the injuries they suffered at the back, the squad’s depth really shone through with Jayden Hey shifting to the backline and Canadian Michae Maiorano taking his place in midfield to great effect. With Moody and Harrison likely to miss this week, it’s expected that this will be the side that Zebras go with from the start this time and if they have the same impact they did against South, then Rangers will have their work cut out for them
Rangers will undoubtedly look to approach this game in the same fashion that they adopted last weekend. It was a defensive set up that frustrated Devonport and kept them in the game for long periods, only yielding a second goal late in the contest which was a vast improvement on games from earlier this season. Influential new signing Jorge Palacio has stabilised the side immensely at the back and along with the likes of Conor Doherty, Zac Cross, Pat-Lanau Atkinson and Tenzing Anderson the side looks far more settled in defence.
Devonport Strikers v Clarence United, Valley Road, Saturday 14 May, 2:30pm
When these sides met back on the opening Saturday of the season there was a bit of buzz about this Devonport side being the big improvers in 2016 and a side to watch out for this year. Two months later, that conjecture has become reality with the Strikers registering six wins from seven games, sitting second on the ladder and firmly considered amongst the title contenders.
They come up against a Clarence side that had started well in their first month of games, playing competitive football and indeed a 2-0 defeat to Devonport in that opening round looks especially respectable now. However they’ve fallen away in recent times and will be desperately hoping to keep this one close to stem the bleeding after a run of poor results.
Launceston City v Kingborough Lions, Mitsubishi Park, Saturday 14 May, 4:30pm
Launceston City will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing defeat to Olympia with what appears to be a very winnable home game against the side just below them on the ladder. The Lions are in sixth place and have not been setting the world on fire this season but there is plenty of intrigue around them for this one with new coach Ian Shaw set to begin his tenure. He takes over a Lions side that has begun to turn a corner in recent weeks under Mark Broadbent and registered their first win of the season last week against Clarence.
When these two sides first met in 2016 it was a dominant second half from Launceston City that was the catalyst for a comfortable 3-1 victory as star Italian import Carlo Coppari stole the show with a brilliant display. His absence has been a big blow in recent weeks for the Northerner’s and it’s a role they have struggled to replace.
South Hobart v Olympia, Darcy St, Sunday 15 May, 2:00PM
We return once again to the clash that kicked off the season in such spectacular fashion. South Hobart set the tone for a very difficult season to date for the Warriors with a thumping 6-3 victory that night and they have been off the ladder leading group of three ever since.
South Hobart are currently sitting third on the table but that could so easily have been first but for a lack of finishing and a couple of poor errors at the back against the Zebras. They shaded the contest and having led 2-0 just 10 minutes they were left to rue a missed opportunity to take all three points.
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