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McDonald’s® NPL TAS Friday Forecast: Round 17

Welcome to the Friday Forecast ahead of Round 17 of the McDonald’s NPL Tasmania season. We’re fast approaching the finish line now, with just five weeks remaining in the league season and Round 17 looms as an important one in shaping that final table.

South Warm Favourites Against United

The round will get underway with South Hobart looking to keep up the pressure on the Glenorchy Knights in their bid for a second-placed finish when they take on Launceston United at Darcy Street.

South should be able to chalk up the three points here against a United side still searching for that breakthrough result in their maiden NPL campaign. They have six chances left to find something, but a road trip to Darcy to take on South Hobart looks to be a rather slim one.

The last time they ventured down to Darcy Street, South were dominant, winning 6-1 in a comfortable fashion. The earlier meeting between the pair at Floorworld Park was possibly United’s best performance of the season, falling 3-2 in a game that back then looked like it could be a bit of a launch pad for their season. Unfortunately, it has proved anything but, and they are at risk of going through the season pointless. Five-goal defeats in their two most recent matches to the Lions and Knights has them trending in the wrong direction and they will need to show significant improvement from those displays to get the breakthrough they seek here. They’ve had a week off to freshen up after last weekend’s postponement so they’ve had plenty of time to prepare for this one.

South meanwhile continue to play some really good football, they slipped up against the Lions a fortnight ago, though it really ought to have been a comfortable win had they taken their scoring chances. But outside of their finishing in that match, they’ve been winning their games in serious style and appear well poised to overtake the Knights into a second-placed finish if they continue to play in this manner in the final month of the year.

Jaden Fidra has been in fine form- Solstice Digital

Knights Seek Bounce Back Against Improving Roos

The Glenorchy Knights will look to bounce back from last week’s defeat to Launceston City as this week they take on City’s cross-town rivals in Riverside at KGV.

Whilst the Knight’s title hopes were probably already extinguished before last weekend, that loss has also dealt a major blow to their hopes of finishing second, as they handed back the ground they had gained on South Hobart in that regard the week prior. It leaves the gap back at just a point, a cushion that could prove vital if the final match between the pair is a draw. For now though, Riverside is the focus, and they have handled them with ease in two clashes so far this season. The 5-0 and 6-1 wins have been dominant stuff, but as we have seen in the past month, Riverside are now a vastly different side both in personnel and performances from that outfit.

They were unfortunate last week to cede a 3-1 lead to fall 5-3 to the Lions, but it did show they still have some questions lingering at the back they will need to tighten up. Claiming a top-four scalp would demonstrate the significant improvements they have made and given how one-sided some of their recent clashes with the Knights have been, they will surely be eager to put in a good showing here, even if they appear locked into a seventh-placed finish at this stage.

Recent weeks have brought happier times for Riverside- Solstice Digital

Strikers Focus Shifts Back to NPL

The Devonport Strikers return to NPL Tasmania action as they head to Buckby Motors Park to take on an in-form Launceston City side.

Having played in the Australia Cup midweek against the Gold Coast Knights, up on the Gold Coast, you’d imagine there might be a bit of a fatigue factor at play for the Strikers which raises City’s chances of snatching something from the clash. Whether they rotate the squad or have the bulk backing up, either way, there is no denying this is an ideal time to play the ladder leaders for City, if there can ever be such a time.

It was a good effort from the Strikers against a very strong Gold Coast Knights side in that Australia Cup game midweek and they can walk away with their heads held high. A 1-0 defeat is a commendable result and whilst not the victory they dreamed of, they’ve once again represented Tasmanian Football with distinction on the National stage.

City’s top-four hopes received a major boost last week by defeating the Knights and they enter this one in good touch, having now won three of their past four outings. It leaves them a point and game clear of the Lions in fourth and firmly in control of their fate. It’s been an impressive debut campaign from rookie coach Daniel Syson, but the most recent clash between these sides must surely be something they want to atone for. The Strikers hammered them 8-1 that day and that should provide some added motivation for City here. It was by far their worst performance of the year and they are capable of much better.

The reality for the Strikers is that they can afford to drop this one as a defeat probably won’t matter too much in the grand scheme of things. City’s victory over Knights last week provided the Strikers some extra breathing room at the top and it does ease the pressure on them somewhat. Three wins from their final six games is all that is required from them at this point should the Knights win their final five games, which in itself is far from a guarantee. Having dropped points just twice all year, doing it four times in the final six matches seems exceedingly unlikely. That doesn’t mean they won’t be going all out to win, there is little love lost between these two sides after all, but they do have that extra insurance should they need it.

Taylor Last has been in fine form in midfield- Solstice Digital

A ‘Must Win’ Safari Derby

On the Sunday, the Clarence Zebras will host the Kingborough Lions in a massive game for both side’s top-four hopes that can probably be classified as a must-win game for both sides.

For the freefalling Clarence Zebras, who have now dropped their past five matches on the bounce, if they are to reverse course and finish in the top four (something that seemed highly likely a couple of months ago) then they simply cannot afford to fall further behind the Lions here. The gap sits at four points, and five to City, who also have a game in hand, so anything less than victory here and there just won’t be the time to recover. It might already be too late for them, but they can give themselves a chance with a win here.

With City holding that game in hand the same is probably true for the Lions. With some tough games looming to close out the year, this is one they simply must bank the points in, and with City facing a tough fixture on Saturday, they could potentially move back into the 4 by the end of the weekend, albeit having played an extra match. The Lions have done well to get back on track in recent weeks after their season began to slide away. With losses mounting and Kemp injured it could all too easily have imploded, but they have responded positively by winning their past three matches with player/coach Freddy Hess leading by example with some glistening displays. Extend that to four wins in a row here, and the race for the top 4 should go down to the wire.

Round 17

Saturday 12 August

South Hobart v Launceston United, Darcy Street, 2:00pm

Glenorchy Knights v Riverside Olympic, KGV, 3:00pm

Launceston City v Devonport Strikers, Buckby Motors Park, 4:45pm

Sunday 13 August

Clarence Zebras v Kingborough Lions, Wentworth Park, 2:30pm