North the team to beat

Written by Matt Hill

North Launceston made it three from three over neighbours Launceston on Saturday afternoon to finish the home and away season on the perfect note. The Bombers wrapped up a minor premiership but they were made to work for the final round victory with the Blues pushing them hard for the opening three-quarters before a late Bomber surge sealed the deal to the tune of 37 points.

It was a game that would have no effect on final ladder positions but neither team took a backward step. Launceston started strongly despite the absence of leaders Sam Rundle and Sam Lonergan, kicking the first goal of the game courtesy of Corey Sheppard who slotted a set shot from 35 metres out to draw first blood.

North responded with two goals through the strong marking Tom Bennett, who was the most dominant forward on the ground. Launceston then responded with good pressure and constant inside 50 entries which resulted in Launceston forward Sonny Whiting kicking his first of the day and star young gun Brodie Palfreyman kicking an outstanding crumbing goal. North, however, responded in typical North fashion with Zach Burt kicking a dead-eye set shot from the boundary into the breeze and Cox-Goodyear doing what he does best to slot a nice goal to tighten it up. Towards the end of the quarter, Launceston got on top with Whiting and Gillow adding goals to the Blues’ tally to see them into the first quarter huddle seven-points ahead.

In the second stanza, the Bombers got the chance to kick with the breeze but did not make the most of their opportunities, failing to take a major lead to the main change. Tom Bennett again proved dangerous booting another goal but was wasteful from multiple other opportunities. Jay Blackberry and Jake Hinds began to get into the game and provide as dominant players for the Blues, finding plenty of the ball to keep the hosts in touch. Jay Blackberry pushed forward and kicked the only goal for the Blues in a quiet quarter. The Bombers prime movers began to get on top with Tom Couch, Cox-Goodyer, Bennett and Josh Ponting all performing their usual roles to take in an eight point lead.

In the premiership quarter, the Blues needed to get kick some goals with the breeze at their back if they were going to be any chance to overrun the Bombers and they did exactly that, outscoring the premiership favourites to cut the margin to only two points at the final change. The quarter was evenly balanced with the Bombers controlling the early stages and kicking two goals courtesy of Ponting and Tarryn Thomas, the Blues answered with Gillow kicking another and when 150 gamer NathanO’Donoghue and Hinds kicked goals the Blues were certainly a major chance of an upset win.

It wasn’t to be as Couch rallied the troops and the Bombers showed why they are the team to beat, flexing their muscle to kick five unanswered last quarter goals to run away with a win. Ponting capped off a great day with two last quarter goals and when Mark Walsh, Bennett and Thomas all added majors, the Bombers were free to celebrate their minor premiership.

Next week is finals time with North’s minor premiership earning them a week off to rest up before they take on the winner of Clarence and Lauderdale at UTAS stadium the following week.

The Blues face the sleeping giants in reigning premiers Glenorchy in an elimination final on Saturday at 1pm at Blundstone Arena. The Blues will regain both Sam Rundle and Sam Lonergan for the do or die clash. “We are looking forward to the challenge next week having not played finals in a couple of

“We are looking forward to the challenge next week having not played finals in a couple of years and it will be a good experience for the boys.

“We will have plenty of selection issues this week with plenty of players available, I am looking forward to selecting the side and it is certainly better to have these issues than not having enough players.”

Things I Learnt

  • Launceston need Mitch Thorp

With Kelly-Mansell playing on the wing and looking very dangerous in that position, the Blues are a lacking another key forward. Whiting is an absolute star but can’t do it all for the Blues if they are to be a serious threat in the finals. As Thorp has now moved on from Devonport, if the Blues could get his signature he would not only bolster the Blues forward line but also help out Whiting and give the Blues more scoring potential.

  • Lockhart will be back for finals

Key North Launceston player Jay Lockhart will be back for the finals according to coach Tom Couch who said that he will be ready to go for the first final against either Clarence or Lauderdale.

  • Rulla on the wing is so exciting and Couch is a gun

Whilst Kelly-Mansell is very dangerous down forward, his speed, agility and ball skills on the wing are very exciting to watch. With a big game on a big ground next week against Glenorchy, was this move just a warm up for what will occur next week? If so expect Rulla to have a big game next week.

I know it is obvious but Tom Couch is an absolute star. He was the best player on the ground and was instrumental in getting his side over the line.  Couch has had an exceptional year and would be a good chance at winning North’s best and fairest but the coach will only have one thing on his mind and that will be getting North another premiership.

LAUNCESTON v. NORTH LAUNCESTON
Round 21 – 26/08/2017

North Launceston                        4.0,  7.4,  9.6,  14.10  (94)

Launceston                              5.1,  6.2,  9.4,  9.4  (58)

GOALS, North Launceston :
J. Ponting 3, T. Thomas 3, B. Cox-Goodyer 2, Z. Burt 2, K. Wadley 1, M. Walsh 1,
T. Bennett 1, L. Hollmer 1

Launceston :
J. Gillow 2, S. Whiting 2, C. Sheppard 1, B. Palfreyman 1, N. O’Donoghue 1, J. Hinds 1,
J. Blackberry 1

BEST, North Launceston :
J. Ponting, T. Bennett, K. Baker, T. Thomas, A. Lee, T. Couch

Launceston :
C. Brown, J. Boyce, J. Hinds, J. Donnellan, C. Savage, H. Leedham