Last year’s brave showing proof nothing is impossible

IF DEVONPORT’S players are seeking motivation for todays’s match against the undefeated Clarence, coach Glen Lutwyche suggests they look at the first half from the last time the two teams met.
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Late last season, the Magpies got the jump on the Roos, leading by eight goals at quarter time and maintaining their advantage until the main break.

While weary legs gave out in the second half, Lutwyche said it proved no contest was unwinnable.

“You always give yourself a chance,” Lutwyche said.

“We’ve made some structural changes to counter their talls and our aim is to improve.”

The winless Magpies will welcome back Kurt Heazlewood for the trip south, while youngsters Jordan Smith and Claye Symmons will make their debuts.

“Both players have good leg speed and we think their run and dash will be suited to the bigger ground,” Lutwyche said.

After a promising opening half, Devonport faded against North Launceston last weekend and eventually went down by 62 points.

Lutwyche said it was back to basics for his team on the training track this week.

“We’ve looked how we can run front and square,” he said.

“We’ve also looked at getting some quicker ball movement and improving our run and carry.”

In the weekend’s other games, South Launceston would fancy its chances to get its second win for the season against cellar dweller Hobart.

The competition’s big improver Lauderdale should bounce back from last week’s 60-point loss to Burnie with a win over the young North Hobart outfit.

Glenorchy and North Launceston should fight out a close game at KGV.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

Grand final defeat is history, says Plant

BURNIE coach Brent Plant and his players haven’t dwelled on last year’s TSL grand final.
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And they are not about to start.

The 44-point loss to Launceston won’t be mentioned in Plant’s pre-game address when the two sides meet at West Park tomorrow.

“We talked about it at the season launch, because making it to a grand final is a big achievement,” Plant said.

“Other than that we have seen it as history, it’s gone.

“We won’t talk about it as a group at all.”

While the events of last September would likely be a burning motivator for the players individually, the resolve they have shown as a group has been nothing short of exceptional.

The Dockers have won all three of their opening games by more than 50 points.

Plant said the commitment the side was showing extended beyond the boundary line.

“Last week we got home from Hobart at three minutes to midnight and the players were at a recovery session at the beach at 8am the next morning,” he said.

“They were standing out in the middle of Bass Strait so they are certainly enjoying each other’s company and are committed to the cause.”

Along with their hardened approach, the Dockers are also catching Launceston on the hop.

The Blues will be without Brian Finch, Nathan O’Donoghue and Gary Shipton for the clash, all key members of last year’s premiership side.

The Dockers will welcome back 228-game AFL legend Russell Robertson, with playmaker Darren Banham also a possibility to return.

Still, Plant is not taking anything for granted.

“We’ve been working on increasing our run and spread across all areas,” he said.

“That is Launceston’s strength and they do it quite well.

“We want to play accountable, man-on-man football and shut down their run.”

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

Cats go for height

WYNYARD coach Shannon Bakes will roll the dice in today’s clash with Latrobe.
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The Cats are undefeated and sit comfortably on top of the ladder, but Bakes believes there is still room for improvement against the Demons, who he said are a different team to that which won last year’s premiership.

“They’ve changed their gameplan, they’re a run and carry team now, but still very dangerous,” Bakes said.

“We’ve got a bit of run too but we have brought in some bigger players to give us a height advantage.

“We’ve been evaluating our structures over the first couple of weeks and we’ve got to the stage where we are almost set, we’re just putting the last part in tomorrow (today).

“It’s trial and error, and who knows it might not work, but we’re prepared to risk it if there is a chance to move forward.”

The bigger bodies Bakes referred to are defenders Craig Stretton and David Fitzpatrick.

Wynyard’s back line will also be bolstered by the return of captain Daniel Franks, however Gregg Sharman, the full-back in last year’s TSL team of the year, is another week away from returning from a hamstring injury and illness.

“He was probably right to play but it’s a long season so we decided to give him another week,” Bakes said.

Meanwhile, Latrobe has not made a change to the side which was defeated by Penguin last week.

Demons coach Dale Perry said his team would have to execute the basics properly if it was to claim the away win.

“To win at Wynyard it is important to get your hands on the football first, use it well and then work as a team to fill the gaps,” Perry said.

“We’ve been doing lots of transition work at training.

“If Wynyard grabs hold of the momentum we want to be able to stop it.”

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

Swans eager to triumph at home

WITH its two wins this season coming on the road, East Devonport coach Daniel Freshney admits his side is still getting used to the wide open spaces of Girdlestone Park.
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However, Freshney is confident the Swans will be able to turn their fortunes around at home this weekend when they take on Smithton.

“We are pretty much a whole new team so the smaller grounds and tighter spaces have suited us a bit better,” Freshney.

“It’s something we are getting used to, but our confidence is up and hopefully we can get a win in front of the supporters this week.”

The Swans hand was forced at the selection table, with Mark Marriott (foot) and Bradley French (hamstring) both missing through injury.

Brady Stubbs and Chris Poole were omitted from the side, which lost to Wynyard last round.

Into the side comes Kurt Jeffrey, Michael Bloomfield, Rodney Coglan and George McLachlan.

Freshney hoped the inclusions would help his side run the game out.

“Last week we played three quarters of good football, but got smashed in the third,” he said.

“This week we’ve talked about making good starts to the quarters and continuing on through the game.

“We know we can match it with the best, we’ve just got to sustain the pressure.”

A win would lift the fourth- placed Swans above the third- placed Saints, and should Latrobe lose to Wynyard, the red and white would be in outright second place.

However, Freshney was not getting too carried away.

“Smithton have some very dangerous key players like (Scott) Bryan, (Damien) Medwin and (Clint) Riley,” he said.

“We will need to be on from the opening bounce.”

Smithton, 39-point winner over Ulverstone last week, has made one change, with Luke Viney coming in for Josh Smith.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

Another win likelyfor confident Ulverstone

ULVERSTONE travels to Mitsubishi Park to meet Launceston City, which is yet to win a game but has managed two draws so far this season.
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Ulverstone will be full of confidence after coming off a 5-0 win over Burnie last week.

Sean and Adam Conkie, along with Brayden Mann and Joel Stone, will cause problems for the City defence as they will be relied on by Reds’ coach Nick Owen to supply the goals.

The Reds’ back line will aim for a clean sheet to back up last week, as new signing Ryan Keep has been solid between the sticks.

Burnie United will be looking to bounce back against Riverside Olympic after its loss to Ulverstone last week.

Riverside is coming off the bye, so Burnie will look to get on top early and perhaps take advantage of what could be a slow start by Olympic.

United coach Tony Cocker will welcome Elliot Stewart into the side after serving a week’s suspension.

Burnie goes into the encounter at Montello as the underdog, but if it can string together all its good patches of play for a full match, an upset may be on the cards.

The Devonport Strikers should go into the match against the Northern Rangers at the NTCA Ground with an unchanged side, apart from coach Chris McKenna possibly starting on the field after a good week at training.

The Northern Rangers have played only two games this year and have performed well winning against the Knights 3-1 and Launceston United 6-2.

The Strikers have been solid defensively over the past couple of weeks with Kamil Douglas slotting into the sweeping role, replacing the injured Scott Wilson.

This will be the match of the round and will be an indicator as to where the teams sit in the race for the title.

The Somerset Sharks will have the home ground advantage in round four when they meet Launceston United.

Although the Sharks lost last week, they will be taking a lot of positives from the game and should draw some confidence from the match, after being the better side against the Knights.

Ryan Liston will make a return to the side as will James Nettleton, who will start in an attacking role to hopefully resolve the Sharks’ problem of putting the ball in the back of the net.

The Sharks will have to fight off a determined Launceston United side searching for its first three points in several years.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.