PlayStation 4 Victory League action returns this weekend with four fascinating clashes across Saturday and Sunday.
The first match of the round sees Hobart JEEP Zebras hit the road to tackle what is widely regarded as the Victory League’s toughest road trip, Devonport City at Valley Road.
The Zebras have never triumphed at Valley Road in the PS4 Victory League’s short history, and as a result the club are leaving early for an overnight stay on Friday to have more preparation in their bid to end their coastal drought.
“It is a massive game this week, we are travelling Friday and staying over night in Devonport,” said Zebras boss Chris Hey.
“I think Zebras have won maybe two road trips since the Victory League’s inception, this week is the competition’s biggest road trip and we need to take advantage of all options available to us.
“We are attempting to take the bus trip out of the equation and make sure it isn’t a factor in performance,” explained Hey.
Despite Devonport’s poor early season form, the ladder leaders are anticipating a stern challenge from Devonport.
“I think Devonport are a young side, they have got some high quality players in their squad and it isn’t so much a matter of poor form for them but it is just taking that little bit of time to gel, I don’t think they have been poor more inconsistent in games,” he said.
“The thing I’ve always liked about Devonport is their willingness to work hard for one another, I think that is something that is engrained in their club.
Zebras have been struck by injury and illness ahead of the start of a ‘season defining’ period for Hey’s men.
“It has been a really tough three weeks for us, with injuries, suspensions and departures.
“Nathan Cook has obviously left and we are still waiting to hear whether Kurt Engels will be taking any further part in the year.
“Also awaiting for confirmation on Jordan Muller and Callen Griffen, who have been under duress this week and haven’t been able to train at full throttle. Apart from that everyone else is fit and ready to go.
“I still don’t think many teams will take points away from Valley Road this year, every game this year is a hard game so my feeling is the next five games will define our season.”
In Saturday’s other big clash, Olympia travel north to take on the improving Launceston City.
“Launceston City have improved this year and will be a formidable opponent on their home patch,” said Olympia Coach Glen McNeill.
“Obviously the loss of our goalkeeper Sean Lewis has been well documented and now the challenge to gain a first team berth goes to Spiro Paradisis and Dmitri Nester.
“Every week is important so that we can maintain pressure on Zebras and to not allow South to catch up."
In a preview for the Lakoseljac Cup Grand Final, third meets fourth as South Hobart host Kingborough Lions at Darcy Street this Sunday. It will be the first time the clubs have met since the Summer Cup and South Hobart Coach Ken Morton is expecting an improved Lions outfit.
“They look to be showing good improvement, Coach Collin Robins is doing a good job, he has got the players working hard for him and they have had some good results and performances,” said Morton.
“I think it is an important game for both clubs, a win for Kingborough will move them up the table, a win for South will push us closer to the big two and keep the pressure on.”
The last match of the round is a must win for Northern Rangers. The club were a top four side last year but currently sit in the unfamiliar position at the floor of the table after the first five games.
“We are at the foot of the table, looking to progress so for us it’s another chance to move forward, when you are out of form every game is vitally important,” said Rangers Coach Dane Hudson.
“Knights have also been performing below their best so it will be a struggle on Sunday, to win would be great for our confidence but one swallow doesn’t make it summer,” said Hudson.
PLAYSTATION 4 VICTORY LEAGUE – ROUND 6
Devonport City v Hobart JEEP Zebras – 2:00PM/Saturday 9 May 2015 (Valley Road, Devonport)
Launceston City v Olympia FC Warriors – 4:30PM/Saturday 9 May 2015 (Mitsubishi Park, Prospect)
South Hobart v Kingborough Lions – 2:00PM/Sunday 10 May 2015 (Darcy Street, South Hobart)
Northern Rangers v Glenorchy Knights – 2:30PM/Sunday 10 May 2015 (NTCA, Launceston)