NTFA division 1 2018, round 17: Changes flagged for South, George Town

KING OF CONSISTENCY: Brodie King is one of two Saints to have played every senior game this season.
KING OF CONSISTENCY: Brodie King is one of two Saints to have played every senior game this season.

The division’s top and bottom sides will tinker with their line-ups in the penultimate round of the season.

George Town hosts unbeaten South Launceston in its final home outing for 2018 and will come up against the Bulldogs’ eighth under-18 senior debutant this season – defender Kaleb Canning. 

“He’s a really lovable character,” South coach Leigh Harding said.

“He’s a big, solid mature-bodied boy for a 17-year-old, he puts his heart and soul into training and he’s been a major contributor for the under-18s all year.

“He loves being aggressive so his body size and the way he goes about it will be perfect for senior footy, he’ll slot into a very experienced back-line which will be fantastic for his learning.”

Saints coach Allan O’Sign plans to use the final two matches to get creative with the magnetboard and test  more young blood against the division’s top two sides.

“That’s our luxury, that we know our fate and can play around with our team a little bit,” O’Sign said.

“I believe South are a 10-goal better team than any other club on their given day so we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

George Town were soundly beaten last round by HILLWOOD, who handed O’Sign’s younger cousin Callum a senior debut.

“He tried to give me a couple of cheap ones and tell me how old I was but it was a good laugh,” O’Sign said.

“Hopefully he can stay in there, he played well so hopefully he gets another crack at it. I definitely see me as a player in him, he goes pretty hard at it and tackles well so he’s a got a pretty good future no doubt.”

The Sharks can all but lock in third spot should they win this week but will face a big challenge in Scottsdale.

Geoff Mohr’s Magpies won their sixth game in a row last weekend to edge ahead of Longford in the finals race and preserve their chance of finishing as high as third. 

Big man Bryton Mullins could return to a Magpies side which will be desperate to secure its finals spot this week and thereby avoid having to beat South in round 18. 

“I think now you can see we’re starting to finish games off well which is pleasing because it means we’ve learned from those experiences we’ve had earlier in the year,” Mohr said. 

“If we win this week everything is in our hands.”

BROUGHT DOWN: Patrick Mackrell has been added to Bridgenorth's long-term injury list.

BROUGHT DOWN: Patrick Mackrell has been added to Bridgenorth's long-term injury list.

BRIDGENORTH has lost former coach Patty Mackrell to a season-ending knee injury but was impressive in the first half against South last round. 

The Parrots have to win one of their next two – Bracknell and Rocherlea – to make finals. 

“We’ll be looking to guarantee our finals position this weekend,” coach Brady Demeijer said.

“Bracknell were too good for us when we played them first time round, but we’ll change a few things round to get the upper hand.

“Our spread and ability to get the ball from one end to the other quickly has been a strength of ours, and being able to run the other way is something we’ve been working on.”

Redlegs coach Gary Shipton said his side would regain Joe Chilcott, Majak Miar, Jake Huett and Will Fisher in the coming weeks. 

“Those four boys will be in over this weekend and the next couple, so we should be going into the finals series full-strength hopefully,” Shipton said.

“Bridgenorth are playing for their finals so we’ve got to be on our guard and keep playing good footy.”

ROCHERLEA coach Lyndon Stubbs says his side is looking to finish the year with two wins, starting this week at Deloraine. 

“What we’re really focusing on in this back-end of the season is teaching the younger guys that consistency is what’s going to get you into finals rather than a good quarter here and there,” Stubbs said.

“Deloraine are going to be in the same situation, they’ve got a lot of younger guys and they'll be looking at it going ‘we’re a chance to have a win here’, so we’ve got to come switched on.”