Administrators talked up next year’s Tasmanian State League fixture on Wednesday with a slight adjustment made to the competition’s finals policy.
The final-five system has been retained for 2019 after an investigation, however, elimination, qualifying, semi and preliminary finals will be played at the host club's home ground – a move away from a requirement that all finals must be hosted at the state’s two AFL venues
TSL general manager Carl Saunder said Bellerive Oval would host the grand final with the delayed resurfacing of UTAS Stadium to take place next spring.
“It will change the atmosphere of finals and it is something we are excited for. Teams will be able to qualify to host finals at their designated venues across the opening three weeks of the finals series,” Saunder said.
“A variety of timeslots is also a key feature of the fixture, with clubs opting for greater experimentation with twilight and evening games, particularly early in the season.”
All seven clubs will play each other three times with nine home and away matches across the season.
The first Northern Tasmanian derby is locked in for Good Friday at Windsor Park in round 4, the second will be a Friday night clash under lights on June 14 and the third bout will be for the Phil Edwards Cup in Riverside on Saturday, August 3.
New Launceston coach Mitch Thorp’s first match in charge will be against Glenorchy on March 30.
And overall, Thorp said he was content with the fixturing and backed the final five system. “It’s always nice to have your first game at home and we’ll be up against one of the favourites for next year,” Thorp said.
“It was exciting last year with a team who finished fifth (Lauderdale) ended up making the grand final, so I don’t have an issue with the finals.
“It give teams an opportunity to make a run if they have a setback with injuries or something like that.”
North Launceston will kick off its title defence with a trip to challenge Tigers at Kingston’s Twin Ovals.
AFL clashes inconvenient: Brady
North Launceston president Thane Brady says AFL Tasmania and clubs had reached the best possible solution for 2019’s State League fixture.
Brady is of the belief that Tasmanian football on any level should not clash with the state’s eight AFL fixtures in Hobart and Launceston.
However, the Northern Bombers play down South during Hawthorn’s round 10 and 17 Saturday matches at UTAS Stadium, and Launceston plays on three of the four Northern match days.
North has been afforded a bye on July 27 when the Hawks face Brisbane.
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Two matches are also scheduled in the North on North Melbourne’s only Saturday fixture at Bellerive Oval, with Clarence afforded the bye and North Hobart and Glenorchy to meet the day after. “It’s a difficult situation with no perfect solution,” Brady said.
“Ideally no footy in Tasmania would clash with an AFL game played here, however, that’s simply not achievable.
“AFL games in Tasmania have a major impact on Clarence and North Launceston and the TSL fixture.
“It’s not only the actual AFL game day that a venue is out of action, it can at times also impact on availability the week prior as preparing the ground takes priority.”
Launceston’s first AFL match will see Hawthorn host Carlton on April 28.
- Six night games.
- Two twilight games.
- Two Good Friday blockbusters.
- Grand final rematches between North Launceston and Lauderdale in rounds 5, 13 and 19.
- Launceston derby to have extra meaning in round 18, with the Phil Edwards Cup.
- Invermay Park will host TSL action, with Northern Bombers to host North Hobart in round 20.
- Indigenous recognition matches to be played in round 11 (North Hobart v Tigers) and round 21 (Glenorchy v North Launceston).