Preview: Tasmania Devils vs Northern Knights

Photo: Solstice Digital

The Tasmania Devils could take a huge step towards premiership success in round 15 of the NAB League Boys when they take on the Northern Knights. A win would seal a top three finish on the ladder for the Devils, automatically moving them through to the second week of the finals.

Date: Saturday August 6
Time: 12:00 PM
Venue: Preston City Oval, VIC
Broadcast: via the NAB League App

The Devils will enter tomorrow’s fixture in red-hot form, having won five of their last six games to climb all the way to second on the NAB League Boys ladder. Over their current three-game win streak, the Devils have averaged the most kicks and least clangers per game in the competition, using their skills by foot to dissect opposing defences. That saw them pile on 17 goals in last round’s win over the Calder Cannons, with ten individual goalkickers showing the depth and versatility of the Tasmanian squad.

The Northern Knights have endured a much tougher season to date, sitting 13th on the ladder with just two wins from their 11 games. They have been further depleted late in the season, with a number of their stars absent through school football, but they showed their potential in round 12 with a big win over Calder.

They struggled to contain the ladder-leading Gippsland Power last round, allowing a high number of handball receives (151, second-most this season) and disposals (397, third-most this season). With so many damaging ball users in Tasmania’s lineup, that could spell danger in tomorrow’s clash. They will also line up with a very undersized backline, which presents a big opportunity for Tasmania’s talls to stamp their authority on the contest.

Last time they met

This will be the second meeting between the Devils and the Knights this season, with Tasmania claiming a 41-point win way back in round three. The Knights took an early lead as the Devils were wasteful in front of goal, but they recovered to level the scores at the main break and piled on 11 second-half goals to pull away.

Lachie Cowan (25 disposals, one goal) and Liam Jones (22 disposals, five marks) were prolific as always, while Will Splann booted four goals and reeled in seven marks in a powerful display. For the Knights, Josh Hamilton (23 disposals) found plenty of the football, with Jason McCormick and Nate Caddy kicking two goals apiece.

Team news

For the first time this season, the Devils will be unchanged from last round. With only Isaac Hyatt and Nathaniel Sulzberger on the injured list, Tasmania will travel with the same lineup that comfortably defeated the Cannons last weekend.

Key players

Tasmania Devils

Will Splann

All signs point to a big game here for Splann. After returning from a mid-season injury layoff, the key forward was back to his best last week, booting a game-high four goals to tie his season best tally. The last time he kicked four goals was against this week’s opposition, and he could well be similarly effective against their undersized defence.

Jack Callinan

Callinan has been outstanding in recent weeks, averaging 20.5 disposals and a goal per game across his last four NAB League outings. He racked up 22 touches and kicked three goals in last week’s win, and in a hybrid midfield-forward role he has the capacity to dominate the game in a variety of ways. Against a low-possession Knights team, expect him to find plenty of the ball.

Northern Knights

Nate Caddy

While he stands at just 191 centimetres tall, Caddy plays like a key forward and is a dangerous opponent. A member of the Vic Metro squad that will play off for the U18 national title in September, he has booted 13 goals this season while also averaging 14 disposals per game. A powerful athlete with strength overhead and at ground level, he poses a tough matchup for the Devils defence.

Dane Harvey

Another Vic Metro squad member, Harvey is one of the Knights’ bigger bodies at 195 centimetres. Lining up predominantly on the wing, Harvey has been starved of possession as his side has struggled this season, averaging just 9.3 disposals per game. He is due for a big performance, and the Devils midfield will need to be on high alert.