TSL Women’s Grand Final preview: Launceston vs. Glenorchy

GRAND Final day is finally here and it is an old fashioned north against south clash in the Tasmanian State League (TSL) Women’s when minor premiers Launceston come up against second placed Glenorchy in the decider. It is a different finals series to what these sides are used to, with just the two semi-finals and grand final to determine the premier for season 2020.

LAST SEASON:

These two teams again finished first and second, and clearly too. Launceston (15-0) went undefeated in season 2020, and even won the first final to earn a spot in the decider. Glenorchy (12-3) bowed out in straight sets as a raging Clarence (8-7) came through and trumped both to win the premiership in stunning circumstances.

THIS SEASON:

Launceston (6-2) has earned its place in the 2020 TSL Women’s Grand Final following a strong victory over North Launceston (2-6), whilst Glenorchy (6-2) came from behind in a thriller to edge out Clarence (6-2) and exact revenge on their 2019 finals conquerors.

HEAD-TO-HEAD:

While Launceston did finish on top of the table, they only did so by percentage, with a whopping 307.41 per cent to Glenorchy’s 264.24 per cent, a hair ahead of Clarence (264.08 per cent). It was a strange old season with the Roos defeating Glenorchy twice yet finishing below the Magpies, whilst the Magpies actually defeated Launceston twice, the Blues’ only two losses for the year.

In the first match back in Round 4, Glenorchy booted four second half goals, whilst keeping the Blues scoreless in three quarters to get up and win, 5.3 (33) to 1.1 (7). Eventual competition leading goalkicker, Sarah Skinner booted two majors in the victory, whilst Libby Haines and Kira Maass were the Magpies’ best in the win. For Launceston, Makenna Hillier was the only goalkicker in a rare disappointing scoring effort from the Blues, though Kelsie Hill joined the experienced duo of Daria Bannister and Mia King in the bests.

Four weeks later, Glenorchy repeated the dose, but in a tighter contest. The Magpies trailed by seven pints at quarter time before booting three goals in the second term, and four for the rest of the match, to Launceston’s one, to win 5.2 (32) to 3.4 (22). Skinner was again amongst hte bests despite just slotting the one goal this time, as Molly Mitchell (two) goals was prominent, as was Jemma Webster and Holly Ryan. Bannister was best-on for the Blues with a two-goal effort, whilst Hill and Melissa Smith were also amongst Launceston’s best.

FORM:

Since that loss, Launceston has won its past two games, though in a weird season, the Blues have had three byes in that time. So since the September 5 clash between the sides, the Blues have played just two matches, whilst the Magpies have played one extra game alongside two byes. They come into the game off some hot-form, defeating every team in the competition the past four matches, with their most recent loss coming in Round 7 against Clarence, but knocked off the Roos in the semi-finals last weekend.

KEY PLAYMAKERS:

Sarah Skinner (Glenorchy)

It is hard not to have Skinner high up on the players to stop for Launceston, booting 18 goals in nine games, including two hauls of four goals against Tigers, and a haul of three against North Launceston a couple of weeks ago. Skinner did not hit the scoreboard last week against the Roos, the first time she has done so all season, but her team still got the job done which was important. She has booted three goals in two games against the Blues this season.

Zoie Crawford (Glenorchy)

The former Clarence captain returned to TSL Women’s in a big way this season, switching the red and white for the black and white, and she has certainly been a standout performer. Playing in all nine games, she has been in the best seven times and even booted two goals. Given her ability to beat an opponent one-on-one, and be a reliable player week-in, week-out, she is one that can really create things for the Magpies from the back half of the ground.

Daria Bannister (Launceston)

The experienced Roo at AFL Women’s level has been a class above this season, not too far behind Skinner with 13 goals in nine games. With multiple goals in five games and the versatility to slot in anywhere, she is a terrific player to have in the side, and one that is ultra consistent – having slotted 38 goals in 15 games last season for the Blues. Against Glenorchy she failed to hit the scoreboard in Round 4 but was still impressive, then bobbed up with a best-on effort in Round 8, slotting two goals.

Brooke Brown (Launceston)

Judging from her five-goal haul last week against North Launceston, it does not look like being drafted into the AFL Women’s competition has phased her. The former Launceston Tornadoes basketball player who is in her first TSL Women’s season with the Blues, has been in red-hot form of late. Having booted fur goals in her first six games, Brown booted one goal but was second best-on in the Blues’ win over Clarence a few weeks back, then slammed home five goals in a best on ground performance against the Bombers. The in-form player of the competition.

Others: Haines has been a reliable player all season for the Magpies, showing why she was drafted into the AFL Women’s. Alongside her, Webster and Elise Barwick are always consistent workers, with Mitchell (10 goals) leading Barwick and Tiarna Ford (both nine) in those stakes. For the Blues, King is one of the standout players in the competition, while the likes of Angela Dickson, Hill and Camilla Taylor have been consistent week-in, week-out.

WHO WINS?

This is too tough to call. Glenorchy have found the way to win against the Blues the past two matches, but Launceston have shown to be the best team in the competition. That did not matter last year in the decider, but they did beat the Magpies in the first week of finals in 2019, so will hope to repeat the dose here. Glenorchy are favoured in a tight one, but could go either way.

Picture: Solstice Digital & Photography

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