Could The Roos Rule The South?
It may not have been the most glamorous of audition tapes, but Clarence did their push for southern ascendancy no harm whatsoever with a tough 17-point win over arch rivals Lauderdale on Saturday.
The Roos, for the most part, did it ugly at Lauderdale Oval.
They made the most of their chances, rode their luck and played with tremendous drive to record a prized victory over the team that ended their finals run in 2017.
The match failed to reach any lofty heights of skills, but instead delivered an absorbing match full of pressure.
After a tight opening half, the Bombers dominated the third quarter with ten scoring shots, but struggled to fully capitalise, kicking 4.6 to leave the door ajar for Clarence, who were 13 points in arrears at the final change.
And while seven goals were scored by the Roos across the opening three terms, Clarence finished in impressive fashion to pile on seven goals to two and emerge with a valuable 17-point win.
Clarence entered the clash with a raft of new faces, and all of them made an impact at some stage throughout the contest, highlighted by Troy Cunliffe, who kicked two goals and found plenty of the football.
Fellow Lindisfarne recruit Ryan Edmondson also provided great stability to the Clarence back six, alleviating some of the pressure on key defender Jason Bailey.
Harry Richmond also showed plenty of fight up forward, while young Aiden Jackman looks a likely type in defence.
Some familiar names also stood tall yet again, with Jake Cox (three goals) and Brady Jones stamping their authority on the contest as the game progressed.
Jones, who had an exceptional 2017 season, picked up where he left off, finding plenty of the football and standing tall in the absence of fellow midfield gun Jackson O’Brien.
Despite being well held for much of the match, Jake Cox also stood tall when required, kicking two of his three goals in the final term as Clarence stormed home.
Clarence coach Jeromey Webberley was full of praise for Cox’s three-goal performance in the opening round.
“He is a class player and when he is on he is just about the best player in the competition,” he said.
Although Clarence’s win was far from a seasoned, polished performance, Webberley was relieved to get the four points against last year’s grand finalists.
“Sometimes you’ve got to win ugly and we did that today.
“To the boy’s credit they fought hard in that final quarter and showed some real character.
“We are only going to get better each week. It’s pleasing to get the four points after a hard-fought win,” Webberley said.
There could be silkier or smoother audition tapes, but Clarence’s efforts to grind out a tough win in the opening round of the season is just as effective in displaying the Roos’ credentials as a premiership hopeful once again.
Although on the wrong side of the result, Lauderdale would also take plenty of positives out of the game with the initial impacts of receuits Henry Kerinaiua, Kim Kantilla and Tim Mosquito thrilling the vocal home crowd.
Phil Bellchambers played an impressive game in the midfield, while ruckman Haydn Smith was also among the Bombers’ best.
Lauderdale will be looking forward to the return of Josh McGuinness and Robbie McManus, but will be forced to wait for captain Bryce Walsh, who went down with a leg injury in the second term that will keep him sidelined until late in the season.
Lauderdale’s next test will be Glenorchy at KGV on Saturday, while Clarence have the bye in round two prior to taking on the Demons at North Hobart Oval in round three.