Lonergan’s perfect return

Written by Jakson Peach/Damian Gill

It was the perfect return to football for Sam Lonergan, with his Launceston Blues triumphing over Devonport Magpies by 34 points, at Devonport Oval on Saturday evening.

It was an arm wrestle early but Launceston’s forward firepower proved too much for Devonport, with the Blues kicking away in the second half. The forward line was potent with three goals from usual suspect Sonny Whiting, while Jay Blackberry, Jordan Harris and Rulla Kelly-Mansell all chimed in with two a-piece in a fearsome showing.

It was fast and frenetic early with the Blues taking a one goal lead into the first change, things settled in the second term with weather playing a part in blunting scoring with only two goals scored. There was still plenty on offer for the faithful spectators though, with physicality and tensions flaring between the two teams as well as a well executed piece of footwork from Sherring Egger and an extraordinary hanger from the creative Kelly-Mansell.

The Blues looked in control but only took a slender seven point lead into the major change and it was cut down to a point by the Magpies before the visitors exploded into action, kicking away to a 28 point advantage at three quarter time, a lead that would prove unassailable.

It was the perfect script for Launceston Coach Sam Lonergan on return. However, the same could not be said for his opposition number Devonport coach Mitch Thorp, who finished the day in hospital after suffering a knee to the kidney in the third quarter. His absence did not help the Pies fortunes and despite a fourth quarter goal from Kurt Byard bridging the gap to 22, the visiting team finished off well to bring Lonergan back to footy in style.

Lonergan was pleased with his side’s application in finishing off a healthy away win on a venue that hasn’t been kind to the club.

“A positive start, you come into round one unexpected of what may happen. For us, we set out to tick the boxes that we’d planned for and we did that today and luckily enough the result has come with that.”

The Blues coach believes was impressed with the emergence of young key position prospect Simon Vandervelt and acknowledged that his forward line may prove a handful for opposition teams.

“We had probably four or five guys that really stepped up today. There is some good diversity across the ground and I think that forward line may cause some trouble at times and they will only get better the more they work together.

Personally Lonergan was pleased with his own retun to football and his contribution but hopes it will only build as he plays more footy.

“It was nervous to start with when you have 15 months out of any sport you worry about your body but got through really well today. Didn’t overdo it probably played bout 75% game time, I’ll look to build on that in the next few weeks and hope that the football grows and I become a better player across the course of the year.

Assistant Simon Dent stood in for the injured Thorp post-game and said the prognosis was unknown for the injured Devonport Coach.

“Tough day for him (Mitch Thorp) personally but really bouyed by the efforts he’d seen on the field,” Dent explained.

“He (Mitch Thorp) is just willing them to keep their heads up and go again, its round one. Key message is concentration, just those small lapses and we let Launi off the leash and when they run it is really hard to stop.”

Next week, Launceston will look to make it two from two when they host Burnie and Devonport need to pick up the pieces quickly to face the difficult assignment of the reigning premiers, Glenorchy.
Round 1 – 01/04/2017

Launceston                              3.2,  4.6,  8.11,  11.13  (79)

Devonport                               2.2,  3.5,  5.5,  6.9  (45)

GOALS, Launceston :
S. Whiting 3, R. Kelly-Mansell 2, J. Blackberry 2, J. Harris 2, M. Spohn 1, C. Savage 1

Devonport :
E. Stephenson 1, G. Millucci 1, K. Byard 1, B. Butler 1, S. Egger 1, B. Connelly 1

BEST, Launceston :
H. Leedham, J. Blackberry, R. Tyrrell, R. Kelly-Mansell, S. Vandervelde, C. Savage

Devonport :
M. Perry, D. Schnoor, T. Enniss, D. Riley, B. Butler, B. Hawkes