For the fourth time in the last eight years, Devonport Strikers and South Hobart will meet in the Lakolsejac Cup Final with a place in the Australia Cup 2023 Round of 32 also on the line.
The two sides have now met in 2016, 2019 and then once again last season in the 2022 decider. The Strikers won in 2016 and 2022, but South Hobart managed to turn the tables in 2019 in what proved a highly dramatic game.
Devonport have been the dominant side in the Lakoseljac Cup across recent years. This will be their sixth final appearance from the past eight seasons. They’ve won four of those and lost just once, to South Hobart in 2019. They will be striving to do what no club has ever done before and win three Lakoseljac Cups in a row, having won the past two editions.
Prior to that recent run of Devonport dominance, it was South Hobart who were the dominant force, winning it fives time between 2008 and 2015. Both sides have a total of six Lakoseljac Cups and so a win would move either side level with Olympia on 7 on the overall tally, with Glenorchy Knights still the most successful side in the competition’s history with eight victories.
On form, you’d have to give the edge to the Strikers. They currently sit atop the NPL table, undefeated with an 8-1-0 record. The last time they lost a game in any competition was Round 2 of the 2022 NPL Tasmania season, a streak of some 37 matches across all competitions.
They currently sit 11 points clear of South Hobart, whom they have met twice so far this season, with Devonport triumphant on both occasions. They won the Summer Cup Final, 2-1, before winning 2-1 at Darcy Street in their Round 5 league meeting. Both times have seen Devonport reduced to 10 men, but it has not been enough to stop them.
This is a side that just knows how to win football games, it has perfected the art form. Even when they aren’t at their best, this side just seems to always find a way. They’ve shown they’re vulnerable, the Clarence Zebras have given them some major issues this season, yet each time they’ve avoided defeat. In a cup final where sides will need to dig deep into the mental recesses, this is a side that will be packed with belief and should enjoy an edge over South in this regard. The 3-0 drubbing they inflicted on South in this game 12 months ago will also give them further confidence.
Whilst South haven’t hit it consistently enough, they demonstrated in their 6-2 thumping of the Glenorchy Knights at the Quarter Final stage, that their ceiling remains extremely high. Consistency has eluded them, however, as demonstrated by their league record where they’ve posted a 4-2-3 record and will enter this one off the back of a 5-4 defeat to the Clarence Zebras.
This is a side capable of getting red hot and playing anyone off the park though, the issue is they’ve generally run pretty hot and cold from half to half, let alone week to week. Their best is good enough to defeat Devonport and claim the cup, but it will take an almighty effort and consistency within the game they’ve not shown often enough.
Whilst the defence has looked shaky, their attack led by the brilliant Nick Morton, who has hat-tricks in last two starts, has the capacity to fire them to victory if they can find a way to sort themselves out at the back. There isn’t a footballer in the state in better form than Morton heading into this game, and he is someone who relishes the big occasions.
Also on the line in addition to silverware is the highly coveted place in the Australia Cup 2023 Round of 32 that will thrust the victor onto the national stage, and potentially see a game against A-League Men opposition as we saw last season, when Wellington Phoenix travelled to Valley Road.
The stage is set for a thrilling decider, the Strikers have swept all before them and stand on the precipice of Tasmanian Footballing history, but standing in their way is that old familiar foe, who they’ve enjoyed a wonderful modern rivalry with.
The stakes simply couldn’t be higher.
Lakoseljac Cup Final
South Hobart FC v Devonport Strikers
Saturday, 10 June
Kickoff: 5.00pm AEST
KGV Football Park
Live stream: Football Tasmania YouTube