LAUNCESTON and Lauderdale have both toppled each other as the away team already this season, with Saturday’s neutral venue to be the deciding test.
Blues boss Sam Lonergan and Southern Bombers coach Darren Winter have forecast a toss-of-the-coin contest in the preliminary final at Bellerive Oval.
Launceston were 11 points too good at Lauderdale Oval in round 4 while Winter’s men, who are coming off a 94-point second semi-final loss to North Launceston, were three goals better in round 13 at Windsor Park.
Liam Meagher received the call up to replace suspended Lauderdale ruckman Toutai Havea.
“You can’t afford to go into a game worrying about what happened six days ago. I don’t think any one team’s better than the other it’s just what happens on the day,” Winter said.
“If you get the good start you can hold that and win the game or you can tough the game out the longest.
“It’s going to be a tight game, we certainly don’t think we’re going to smash them and we certainly don’t think we’re going to get smashed.”
The Blues will go in unchanged from their triumph over Clarence, with Lonergan hoping their three-consecutive must-win finals will give them a slight advantage.
“We certainly don’t have a fear of being eliminated and that is probably an advantage,” he said.
“In the first game you naturally have that bit of fear that it is do-or-die and even though is is must-win this week, we’ve lived on that cliff edge now for three weeks.
“Hopefully it holds us in good stead to settle quickly and just get into playing some good footy.”
Lonergan said his charges have had a light week on the track leading into their third Hobart trip in a row.
He said half his playing group and staff would travel on Friday with the remainder to follow on Saturday morning.
“It’s going to be a pretty traditional finals game. We’ve prided ourselves on contested footy throughout the year and Lauderdale have been the same,” he said.
Saturday’s winner will face the Northern Bombers in next week’s season decider at UTAS Stadium.