Storm determined to take top spot with win

WESTERN Storm coach Mitch Hills wants to make sure his side finishes on top of the TSL ladder and a win over cross-town rival Launceston in tomorrow's State League game at Aurora Stadium can help it achieve that.

The Blues upset the Storm in round 1 of the season - a defeat Hills has not forgotten and is keen to avenge.

"It's a pretty important game because it's still tight at the top and we think a good win this week can almost sew up top spot, which is what we're really after," Hills said.

"You get a week off and it gives you the upper hand going into finals so that's where we want to be.

"We lost to Launceston earlier in the year at Aurora Stadium, which is one we still think about and we feel like we played a poor game and want to show how much we've improved from that point."

The Storm's narrow three-point win over Burnie last week proved decisive in the scheme of things with Clarence losing to Lauderdale but Hills said the game review had focused on how to avoid the last-quarter lapse that almost cost it the game.

"We've identified where we went wrong and how we can fix it and that's something we want to work on this week - not that we want to have fade-out again - but if things don't go our way the way we deal with it is really important," he said.

"We need to get that right in the last couple of games heading into finals and then hopefully it doesn't happen in final's games."

The Storm should regain two important players in Tassie Mariners captain Tim Jones and experienced premiership defender Clinton Drake who was missed last week against Burnie.

Ruckman Cody Thorp remains sidelined with a knee injury.

Launceston coach Scott Stephens said the game presented a big challenge for his side against a finals contender and he was interested in how his players responded after copping a post-match spray for their efforts against Devonport.

"They were bitterly disappointed with their efforts early last week so the ball is in their court this week to see how they respond because they got a bit of a tongue-lashing," Stephens said.

"We had enough of the footy but our skill errors let us down and we didn't take enough care with our possessions and our intensity and willingness to spread was lacklustre early."

Stephens said Storm had plenty of quality players and they would need to try to stop Hills and Bart McCulloch up forward and try to restrict the supply they received from the likes of Jay Blackberry, Thane Bardenhagen and Zane Brown.

Rohan Sergeant, Jake Rice, Tom Cleary and Hamish Leedham are expected to return to strengthen the Blues line-up.

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