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McDonald’s® NPL TAS Semi Final Friday Forecast

Welcome to the Friday Forecast for Semi Final weekend in the McDonald’s NPL Tasmania. For the first time in many years, a post-league season Cup returns to the schedule in the form of a finals series. To be clear, this is not the A-League model and the existence of these finals doesn’t invalidate Devonport as the Champion’s of 2023. The Strikers have still won the major prize and nothing in the next fortnight invalidates that achievement. This is simply one more piece of silverware on offer for the clubs to try and add to their trophy cabinets and end the season with a big show. Given the title race rather fizzled out, and the battle for the top four was an intriguing one between multiple sides, it’s already delivered value to the league. It’s more or less another Cup competition which you qualify for, with your performances in the league.

South and Knights Up Early At Darcy Street

In the first Semi-Final, it will be South Hobart taking on the Glenorchy Knights at Darcy Street. It will be an early start with a crowded fixture list of visiting sides meaning this one is slated for 10:00 am! So set your alarms and get ready for breakfast with a side of football. This should be a cracking game too, every time these sides met this year it produced entertainment. The venue for this one flipped on the final day of the season as the Knights fell to Devonport, meaning that a point was enough for South Hobart to pip them as they jumped into second despite being held by Launceston City.

That home ground advantage could well prove a pivotal edge, as South have won both games against the Knights on their home patch at Darcy Street, 4-3 and 7-2 in a wild Lakoseljac Cup clash. Given Knights conceded just four goals in 11 games at KGV for the entire season, those scorelines really do pop out. It would seem they certainly have a much tougher time defending that ground than at KGV, where they claimed 1-0 and 1-1 results against South in NPL fixtures.

Nick Morton was crowned the NPL B&F winner last Saturday- Solstice Digital

The form of both these teams is not quite as convincing as it has been at different points of the season. As the battle got tight for the second spot between the pair, both sides started dropping points. Knights faltered significantly, picking up just 7 points from their final six matches, which meant South Hobart’s eight points from the final five was just enough to pip them. Such is the form that you would say either side who wins this is going to be the underdog in the final, regardless of whether it’s the Lions or Strikers awaiting them.

Despite the recent stumbles, these are still two very strong sides littered with quality players.  Freshly crowned NPL TAS Best and Fairest Nick Morton has had a brilliant season in attack and will pose a staunch test for a strong Knights defensive unit that conceded less than a goal per game this season. South have the superior firepower in attack, but the Knights the stauncher rearguard. So which will win out and progress to the final? We will find out early on Saturday!

Eli Luttmer has been a rock at the heart of the Knights defence- Solstice Digital

Strikers Out To Complete Clean Sweep

In the second semi-final, the Devonport Strikers host the Kingborough Lions at Valley Road, which will also host the final the week after.

The Devonport Strikers have swept all before them in season 2023, and now have just one more trophy on offer to make it a clean sweep of all four pieces of silverware they’ve played for. The Summer Cup was followed by the two major trophies in the Lakoseljac Cup and NPL title and now they have the chance to bookend their season.

The Strikers have had plenty to smile about in 2023- Solstice Digital

It’s been another domineering season from the boys from the Portress, winning 18 of their 21 NPL matches. And whilst that was one less than their even more dominant 2022 campaign, it’s arguably even more impressive as there were more sides capable of taking points from them this season, and the 15-point gap between them and second place was wider than last season. The Devonport dynasty has shown no signs of slowing down under Tom Ballantyne and they enter this postseason knowing they won’t have to leave Valley Road again.

Standing in their way are the form side in the state and a team that beat them 4-3 just a fortnight earlier in the Kingborough Lions. After it appeared their season was trending downwards, they’ve absolutely caught fire over the past two months and they enter this one riding the crest of an eight-game winning streak. They are blowing sides away with a devastating attack, having scored 34 goals across those eight matches. Mies, Taylor and Othman have done the bulk of the scoring, with telling contributions from Kemp and Hess in the midfield.  

The Lions attack has been scintillating down the stretch- Solstice Digital

The sides met three times in the league this season, twice at the Den and once at Valley Road. The Strikers won the first encounter earlier in the season at Valley Road 5-2 and the second at Lightwood Park 1-0. That was in Round 13 and was the last time the Lions have tasted defeat this season, winning their final eight straight, including a thrilling 4-3 win over Devonport in Round 20 a fortnight ago.

It sets the stage for an intriguing Semi-Final. The Lion may well be coming into this as a nominal 4th seed, but out of the 3 potential opponents, I reckon this is who the Strikers would least fancy to play at present, not that this group would fear anybody. The match a fortnight ago was possibly the game of the season, so if we get something half as good this time around, we’ll still be entertained.

Semi Finals

Saturday 16 September

South Hobart v Glenorchy Knights, 10:00am, Darcy Street

Devonport v Kingborough Lions, 2:30pm, Valley Road