The gloves are finally off.
After playing out time for weeks of bruise-free football, Launceston is preparing for a contest to decide its season.
The defending premiers travel to Glenorchy on Sunday to claim the remaining spot in the TSLW grand final.
Just one test against Clarence – a 10-point Blues win – in the past six weeks could have the Blues vulnerable.
Not so for Launceston coach Alex Gibbins, left selling the benefits of his side peaking for the big occasion.
The positives are that we are running on top of the ground because we have a softer run in.Launceston coach Alex Gibbins
“The positives are that we are running on top of the ground because we have a softer run in,” Gibbins said.
“We’re up about and we’re fit. We’ve been able to put an extra workload into them.”
The virtual break that has included repeated outings against bottom-two sides Tigers and Burnie each, plus the bye, has players niggle free when most struggle at the end of a gruelling season.
Gibbins ratified the gameplan after indifferent form.
“The way to beat Glenorchy will be speed,” he said.
“Real speed in the midfield and also skill execution.
“If we get outside ball and get that right, we should win.”
When Launceston started slumping to its top rivals, the forward line didn’t function.
That’s changed through August as grounds got drier.
Drafting in converted netballer Brie Rattray late in the piece has added an extra 12 goals in three games.
Gibbins felt strong-bodied forwards like Rattray, Abby Green and Georgia Hill can kick a winning score.
Glenorchy – and grand finalist Clarence – are yet to sight Rattray down south.
“They are going to have to match up on our big forwards,” Gibbins said.
“Our big forwards are our big secret weapon to us winning the finals. They’re going to find it tough to match up.
“Their size, their height and taking marks helps, but the best way for that to work is quick ball movement.”
The changes this year were not reserved for the lineup. Launceston co-captain Angela Dickson pointed to their different path into the finals.
“We were knew we were quite dominant and we knew we’d feature late in the final series last year,” she said.
“We were lucky enough to have the week off, whereas this year we have been hit quite badly with injuries.”
The Blues are set to bring in Mia King, Ashley Carey, Briana Whyte, Nicky Ristorm and Kate McLoughlin.
But Courtney Webb and Danica Corcoran will watch from the sidelines.
Dickson feels the side is better for the ups and downs.
“We have had those losses this year and we’ve learned a lot,” she said.
“I think it’s given the girls the extra drive.
“Going forward we have got a lot of belief and I feel we are starting to peak at the right end of the season.”