Clarence answered every challenge from Launceston to kick away and win by 27 points in an entertaining battle at Blundstone Arena, on Saturday afternoon.
The Roos stay atop the ladder but Launceston lost no friends with a plucky display, undermanned against the league leaders. The Blues were without playing-coach Sam Lonergan and were dealt a further blow with Rulla Kelly-Mansell a late withdrawal.
Zac Mastrocola was terrific in defence for the Roos and Sam Rundle was the pick of the Blues on-ballers, in a dominant stoppage game from the visitors.
The small forwards shone with Ian Callinan, Trent Standen and Sonny Whiting all kicking multiple goals.
The Roos lead all day but were made to work for the win with a see-sawing contest going deep into the final stanza. Big ruckman Hamish Leedham gave the Blues first look and they were dominant inside from the stoppage, while Clarence looked explosive when slingshotting, turning defence into attack regularly.
The Roos dominated the opening term but some poor decision making and ill discipline keeping the Blues in touch. Clarence were first on the board with Aiden Grace sending a long raking kick over the back for Michael Blackburn to finish off. Grace then went from hero to zero with a poorly executed switch landing out on the full, gifting Sonny Whiting his first and the Blues a quick reply. Standen and Sam Siggins both were on fire early, setting the tone. A Hamish Leedham turn over saw Grace again involved, this time finding Standen over the back for his first of the afternoon. It was quickly followed by a long bomb from Siggins, loading up from the arc to be two straight kicks ahead. Brendan Taylor struck back for the Blues with a free kick seeing him fire home the Blues second. Siggins doubled up, working Vandervelde under the ball to take a strong mark before converting from 30 metres out. Standen booted his second from a set shot following a sharp string of hand balls and then Tyson Hanslow rounded out the quarter, finishing off from a free kick to take a 26 point advantage into the first break.
Standen started the second as he did the first, selling some candy before snapping from the left forward pocket to extend Clarence’s control. Joe Boyce then sparked Launceston into action, bursting through traffic to launch from 40 metres. Keegan Wylie had a moment to forget next, poking a kick out straight to James Gillow, who finished off to make it two in a row. Whiting then delivered a ‘Sonny Special’ sneaking home a snap on the non-preferred hard against the boundary to extend the Blues fightback. Boyce then cut the margin to two straight kicks with a 45 metre beauty before Hamish Leedham took a strong mark on the lead to be just one goal adrift. The Blues could have hit the front on the edge of the half when a free kick deep in the forward line was reversed following remonstration, seeing the Roos take a five point lead at the major break.
The third quarter belonged to the Roos as they kicked back out to a strong lead with Ian Callinan, Siggins and then Blackburn all adding majors. Blackburn’s coming from the play of the day with the Roos moving the ball coast to coast Blackburn to finishing off from close range. Whiting made it three goals to his name and reduced the margin to 24 with a quarter to run taking a great mark and finishing following superb delivery from young Ryan Tyrrell.
Launceston started the final term with intent with Gillow taking a great mark before delivering an even better kick to find Jake Smith who made no mistake from a set shot. Whiting then added his fourth courtesy of a 50 metre penalty and then a fifth with a 45 metre goal from a mark on the lead, seeing Launceston just a kick adrift with momentum on their side. The Blues then had several opportunities including one from Whiting fall desperately short with Mastrocola proving instrumental on the last line. Zac Buechner had a quiet day but fired when it mattered helping his Roos with two assists and a goal turning a four point lead into a 21 point one. Blackburn then put the cherry on top for the hosts with his third, finishing off some fine Siggins work to see the Roos bound home by 27 points.
Clarence Coach Jeromey Webberley was relieved to get out with four points.
“I’m happy. We were probably extremely lucky to get away with it to tell you the honest truth, I think we were -20 down from stoppage and we probably lost stoppage in every quarter but in the second and third they started to get some scores from stoppage and basically beat us up around the ball.
“(We were) lucky to get away with it, our transition and our ability to get it over the back saved the day in the end.”
Webberley was impressed by his small forwards and the improving Zac Mastrocola in defence.
“Our small forwards are always quality Standen set the game up for us early and I thought Callinan late probably won us the game, every time he went near it he did something with it.
“Zac has been terrific, he really wants to play high level TSL footy and he is doing that at the moment.”
The Roos face traditional rivals Glenorchy next up in a massive game at Blundstone Arena and are hopeful to welcome back some big ins.
“They have been going under the radar, I expect them to be right there at the end. It shapes as a massive day and they are the type of games you want to play in… Cox, Bailey and Gleeson should all be back in for it.”
Injured playing-coach Sam Lonergan was happy with what he saw from the arm wrestle.
“Really positive, another one where we ticked a lot of boxes.
“To give our guys exposure to that level of footy is what we really need at the moment and I thought they held up really well for three and a half quarters and we just didn’t have the legs to run out the game.”
The Blues get the bye and a change to take stock before a big finish to the season.
“We had some players out today so they get a good break and focus on the back end of the year and the six weeks leading into finals. It is a positive position to be in.”
CLARENCE v. LAUNCESTON
Round 14 – 08/07/2017Clarence 6.3, 8.3, 12.6, 16.8 (104)Launceston 2.1, 7.4, 8.6, 11.11 (77)GOALS, Clarence :
I. Callinan 4, S. Siggins 3, T. Standen 3, M. Blackburn 3, T. Castle 1, Z. Buechner 1,
T. Hanslow 1Launceston :
S. Whiting 5, J. Boyce 2, J. Smith 1, B. Taylor 1, J. Gillow 1, H. Leedham 1BEST, Clarence :
I. Callinan, Z. Mastrocola, S. Siggins, K. Palmer-Hughes, J. Holmes, G. ChambersLaunceston :
J. Donnellan, H. Leedham, S. Rundle, B. Palfreyman, C. Sheppard, S. Whiting