Slice of Cheese

NPL Tasmania R7 Friday Forecast

The NPL Tasmania returns for Round 7 after another weekend of Lakoseljac Cup action played out last weekend. After this weekend we will be at the 1/3 mark of the season, with everybody having played each other once with the exception of South Hobart and Launceston City, who still need to play a catch-up fixture for their postponed game earlier in the year. That represents a good enough sample size to gauge where the sides are at and how the season is set to play out from this point on. As it stands it would seem a case of whether any of the sides currently sitting beneath the Devonport Strikers will have the requisite consistency to chase them down. If they claim victory on the weekend over the Clarence Zebras as expected, then they will have a five-point gap to Knights and Lions who then play later on Saturday night. It’s an enormous match and could go quite the way to determining just who the biggest threat to the Strikers will be this year. In the weekend’s other fixtures Riverside will be hoping home ground advantage can help them overturn a disastrous Lakoseljac Cup loss of 11-0 as they once again play South Hobart, whilst Olympia are on the road to Launceston for a second week in a row hoping to parlay their cup form into the league, as they take on City at Buckby Motors Park. 

Calm Before the Storm for Strikers 

It’s been another good week for the current league leaders the Devonport Strikers. The won their way through to the Lakoseljac Cup Semi-Finals with a massive 4-2 victory over Knights on the road, then broke their Cup draw curse by actually getting a home game in the Semi Final stage (their first in their last 11 drawn games) that will come against either the Lions or Hobart United. Either side of that Semi Final will be league games against the Knights and Lions, so in many respects this week represents the calm before the storm for the Strikers. They are approaching an enormous stretch of their fixture that can define their year and whilst every game is worth 3 points, there is no doubt this week should prove an easier time accruing those points than their upcoming games will. After all, they recently thumped the Zebras 6-0 down on their home patch at Wentworth Park in the Lakoseljac Cup Round of 16 so it would be quite the turnaround if Zebras were to take something from this one just a few weeks later. Complacency would appear to biggest threat to the Strikers, but that’s just not something we have seen impact this playing group down the years. A big reason why they keep winning titles is that this is a motivated group and after losing out on the title last season, you’d expect them to be even more motivated this season.

The Zebras will be hoping for a new coach bounce, after the news broke late this week that Franco Previdi has stepped down from his role as senior coach to focus on personal matters. Brett Pullen will be the interim coach until a replacement is found, so he will take the reins this weekend and it doesn’t get much tougher than a road trip to Valley Road. It’s been a tough last month for the club, losing heavily to South and Devonport whilst drawing at home to Riverside in a game they expected to win. They will be hoping the week off last weekend and the new coach combination can freshen up the group and bring a better performance here.

Second Spot on the Line as Knights Face Lions

The game of the round is undoubtedly taking place on Saturday night at the Den when the Glenorchy Knights take on the surging Kingborough Lions in a battle for second place in the league after the first full round of fixtures. The Lions currently hold onto second place by lieu of goal difference, with their +12 just edging out Knights +11. Both sides have 4-1-1 records, though it’s the Lions who enter the match in better form, with Knights now having dropped two games from their last three after being knocked out of the Cup last week by Devonport and losing to Launceston City in the league. They responded strongly to that shock loss at the hands of City by thumping Olympia 5-0 but the Lions represent a tougher fixture to rebound against this time around.

Kingborough have been flying, particularly in attack, with Noah Mies leading the line and Kobe Kemp bobbing up with goals from midfield. They have simply been blowing sides away and have not scored less than 4 goals in a game since March 19th as they look to get the ball up to Mies quickly and move the ball with purpose. It will be tougher for them to do that this week against a Knight side whose game’s against the top two sides this year have produced a combined 3 goals and been dour contests throughout. They have dominated possession most weeks but haven’t always made it count and whilst defensively they have been solid, their attack has been a little too pondersome rather than purposeful at times which has blunted their threat. 

This could be a cracking game, although word of a flu outbreak in the Lions camp could prove a very tough break and rob the match of some star power. Basically, if there are over 5 goals scored in this match I would fancy the Lions, as a shootout suits them but if it’s under 3 I’d probably lean Knights who seem to thrive in those low scoring arm wrestles. A true six-pointer this one in every sense of the term.  

City Look to Maintain Buckby Park Fortress 

After a week off Launceston City will look to maintain their perfect home record this season when they take on the Olympia Warriors at Bucky Motors Park. City are two from two at home this year and should be relishing the return to play in front of home support given they haven’t played at the venue for well over a month now. Those two wins came against Riverside and Clarence Zebras and this will be another match they are favoured to take three points from. On the whole, despite the premature Lakoseljac Cup elimination, Lino Sciulli would be pleased with how City are going. The defence has struggled against the top two sides sure, but they’ve beaten the sides they are expected to beat and stunned Knights away from home. A total of 12 points with a game in hand, albeit a tough one against South, after the first round of fixtures would certainly represent a very successful points return, and that’s what they will have amassed with a win here. 

A kind Cup draw has seen Olympia progressing through to the final four of the Lakoseljac Cup and they enter this one off the back of an impressive 3-0 win over Rangers, but their NPL form simply hasn’t been nearly as impressive. Outside of their thumping win over Riverside, they haven’t gotten anywhere near the other 5 sides they’ve played. The Cup could be their 2022 salvation but there is a long way to go in the league still and they simply have to up their game in these types of fixtures, or they will be in for a very long season indeed.  

Riverside Needing Enormous Reversal in Fortunes To Challenge South Hobart

A depleted Riverside outfit were thumped by South Hobart in the Lakoseljac Cup last weekend losing 11-0 and now they have to face them again just a week later. They should get some personnel back after being down to the bare bones last weekend and the home ground advantage of Windsor Park helps, but it would nonetheless be a remarkable reversal of fortunes for this to be anything bar a comfortable South Hobart win. A more competitive showing will be the aim as they try make this a difficult ground to come take points from, something which it just simply hasn’t been in 2022. 

South currently sit just fifth on the table, some 7 points adrift of Devonport but they do have the game in hand against Launceston City at Darcy Street to come which does offset that a bit. They pushed Devonport all the way and were probably unfortunate to not take a point from that, as well as playing out draws with both Knights and Lions. So it’s not like they are miles off the pace, they are their abouts and very much in the title race still provided they don’t drop points in unexpected places like this. This should be regulation for South and possibly a chance to build some goal difference.