The two sister clubs with Juventus heritage, Launceston City and Hobart JEEP Zebras, meet in the game of the round at Mitsubishi Park.
Kingborough Lions v South Hobart, Saturday 21 May, Lightwood Park, 2.00PM
A first home game for new coach Ian Shaw, as he faces the unenviable task of trying to find a way to slow down a South Hobart side that ran riot last Sunday against the Warriors.
When these two sides met earlier in the season, Morton’s men won by a comfortable margin of 4-0 and in truth if not for some Mark Grace heroics and South Hobart’s wastefulness it could have been much more. This game therefore should offer a good litmus test of how far the side has come under Broadbent, and now Shaw.
The squad will be bolstered by the signing of Sam Conway which perhaps already points to the Ian Shaw affect at the club. Attracting such a key signing, who can play either as an attack minded full back or as an out and out winger will give them another dimension out wide, which is an area they have struggled to generate meaningful chances from this season. With as many as six players set to return from last week’s squad that fell 1-0 to Launceston, it should be a strong Lions side that takes the field.
Standing in their way is a South Hobart side that was simply sublime in the second half last week. Ben Hamlett’s impact in the second half signaled that they have yet another attacking weapon at their disposal. The fact the likes of Alex Walter and Alfred Hess can only find bench spots at the moment is an indicator of how just strong the depth in this side is. At the back Liam Quaile is set to return whilst Hugh Ludford is set to continue to miss with a foot injury.
The Lions have set themselves the lofty goal of closing the gap to the top four this season and if they are to make it, then they will need to make the Den a fortress. South Hobart will come in as comfortable favourites but the Lions can draw hope from Northern Rangers efforts last week that showed the bottom few sides are capable of mixing it with the league heavyweights on their day.
Devonport Strikers v Olympia Warriors, Saturday 21 May, Valley Road, 2.00PM
The new league leaders will look to maintain their hold of top spot on the table when they take on a reeling Olympia Warriors side at the Portress. Devonport caused a major stir back in round 2 when they upset the defending champions down at Warrior Park but should they make it two from two against the Warriors with a win here, few would be surprised. The expectations around both sides have shifted rather drastically over the past couple of months as Devonport have already created a gap of 9 points.
The Strikers are the most miserly side in the competition, having conceded just the 5 goals for the season with one of the competitions premier goalkeepers, Niko Giantsopolous keeping 5 clean sheets. Protected by a rock solid Centre back pairing of Zupo and Gratton and possesing reliable full backs in Smith and Mulraney, the Warriors may find breaching the defence a difficult assignment. The consistency of being able to put out the same players week in week out, with only Beau Blizzard currently unavailable has led to a cohesive, well drilled side that know each other’s games well and work superbly together.
By contrast the Warriors have seemingly been chopping and changing on a weekly basis which has made it hard for the players to get any sort of continuity. This has been by circumstance, not design, but it has made life difficult, especially at the back.
Northern Rangers v Clarence, Saturday 21 May, NTCA 2, 2.30PM
A battle between seventh and eighth and an opportunity for both sides to create a bit of breathing room from the floor of the table. Clarence’s lone victory of the season came the last time these two sides met in a shootout of a game that ended 5-3. Rangers are still yet to notch up a first win of the season, but they know that this represents their best chance to date against a Clarence side that has been leaking goals in recent weeks.
Rangers have recovered from a turbulent start to the season and their 3-3 draw with Hobart Zebras at KGV last week was their best performance of the season. They fought back from 2 goals down to claim a point, with the Lanau-Atkinson brothers putting in strong performances and Nick conjuring up his latest goal of the season contender.
His penchant for the spectacular continues to be a shining light for his side’s this season and now he is getting some support from the likes of Thannhauser, Palacio and Doherty, they look a much more dangerous side.
Clarence too are starting to put together a handy starting XI but the results have not come in recent weeks. With George Hallard set to miss, finding his replacement at the back will be crucial as Jablonski will once again be forced to shuffle his deck.
Both these sides have struggled to defend but have offered lively attacking displays this season, so goals are probably to be expected in this one, a reversal from the 5-3 that was played out down South would not be a surprise.
Launceston City v Hobart Zebras, Saturday 21 May, Mitsubishi Park, 4.30PM
The hosts will be looking to register back to back wins for the first time this season after a solid display at home last week as they ground out a 1-0 triumph over Kingborough. Zebras meanwhile will be keen to bounce back after throwing away a 2 goal lead to Northern Rangers in a 3-3 draw that bumped them from the top of the table.
Launceston looked solid defensively against the Lions last week as new signings Martyn Jackson and Ryan Schofield, along with captain Toby Omenihu all put in particularly strong displays. With Dom Rossi and Hyato Ogusu back in the fold, Sciulli finds himself with many options at his disposal and the squad looks as strong as it has been all season.
Every bit of the Zebras much lauded depth will be tested this week with the likes of Moody, Harrison, Engels, Maiorano all missing through injury and Sam Conway defecting to the Lions. Chris Hey will be sweating on the fitness of James Sherman and despite Aaron Cairns being granted an ITC, he has been ill all week and will be unavailable to play till next week.
When they last met back in round two it was a tight tussle with Zebras taking out the win 2-1 on home turf. On the road at Mitsubishi park, minus a host of key players it will be a tough ask for them to get the win here. Before last week no side out of the top three had taken points from any of the sides in the top three. Rangers showed that it can happen and this looks like City’s best chance to date to claim a big scalp and make a big statement.
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