The Launceston Football Club has today announced that Mitch Thorp will undertake the role as senior coach for the 2019 Bupa Tasmanian State League season.
Thorp, the 2018 Hudson Medallist as the competition’s leading goalkicker, will perform the role as a playing-coach, filling the void left by former coach Sam Lonergan, who accepted the head coaching role at SANFL club Woodville-West Torrens.
Thorp made the move to Windsor Park after a three-year coaching stint at Devonport, playing a key role in the Blues’ campaign.
“I am delighted to have the opportunity to coach at such a historic football club,” Thorp, 29, said.
“The coaching group we have assembled has a fantastic balance of “the old” – past premiership players at the Launceston Football Club in Tim Bristow (playing assistant) and Chris Savage along with Life Member Darrin Geard, and “the new” TSL premierships players Daniel Trevena, Jay Blackberry and Cam Downie.”
Savage, a co-captain in 2017 and 2011 Tassie Medal winner Bristow will add plenty to the coaching stocks, with Thorp confident that the Blues are in a strong position on and off the field.
“We have also been fortunate to obtain the services of Ben Killalea as our high performance coach, with Ben set to look after all of our strength & conditioning requirements at the club.
“The coaching group is fully aware that we have plenty of work to do moving forward, however we’re optimistic that with the right attitudes we can build the foundation for sustained success for years to come,” he said.
Club president Sandra Boland insists that Thorp is the right person for the job.
“Mitch offered an engaging presentation to an impartial panel to prove successful in this process. Mitch has extensive experience including AFL draft pick for Hawthorn, SANFL, Tassie Devils, previous TSL coaching and playing experience and a TSL premiership as coach,” she said.
“We are excited to have Mitch step up into the role. He played with Launceston this past season and is ready to move back into a coaching role. He is already engaging with players for both retention and recruitment and has commenced putting together his support team to coach for 2019.
“Mitch’s knowledge and enthusiasm, we believe will help the club in its success for the next 2 seasons.”
The development and expansion of the Wrest Point Tasmanian State League Women’s competition is set to continue with both Lauderdale and North Launceston entering from the 2019 season.
This expansion will see the Wrest Point TSLW competition move closer to mirroring the Men’s Bupa Tasmanian State League.
AFL Tasmania CEO Trisha Squires said “this is another important milestone for female football in Tasmania. Our game has seen amazing growth in recent years and it’s important we continue to provide opportunities for female footballers.”
AFL Tasmania’s TSL State Manager Carl Saunder is excited by the growth and development of female football and the Wrest Point TSLW competition.
“To have both Lauderdale and North Launceston entering the competition next season moves us closer to our goal of having a State League Women’s competition that replicates the Men’s game,” Saunder said.
The arrival of both Lauderdale and North Launceston will be followed by North Hobart, with the club being granted a licence for entry from 2020.
Lauderdale and North Launceston will join Clarence, Glenorchy, Launceston and Tigers FC in a six-team 2019 Wrest Point TSLW season.
“Today is a really exciting, landmark day.
“Next year will see the Wrest Point TSLW competition expand to six teams, with the aim of having the current seven TSL clubs compete in the competition from 2020 onward,” Saunder said.
“North Launceston has had a provisional licence for 12 months now, so it was always the plan to build steady progress around the expansion of the competition.
“Lauderdale dipped their toe in the water a few years ago in relation to female footy and this year they played in the SFL and have built from the bottom-up with a youth program. This is what we think is the right model for clubs to build female football.
“Similarly North Launceston has started from the bottom up with youth teams and played in the development series we held earlier this year; so they are ready.”
This expansion is reflective of the booming growth in women’s football in Tasmania, with female participation in club football experiencing a growth of over 45% in 2018 – something that will only be beneficial to the Tasmanian football landscape moving forward.
“What we know and what we see is that the female game is creating new opportunities for people who don’t normally connect with football to come along and play or support it,” Saunder said.
Through the mirroring of the senior TSL men’s competition, the Burnie Dockers have chosen to withdraw from the Wrest Point TSLW competition and are likely to join the NWFL Women’s competition from 2019.
AFL Tasmania Female Talent Manager, Leigh Elder, confirmed that work will continue on the north-west coast to provide opportunities within the talent pathway.
“We will work with the north-west in finding the appropriate opportunity to showcase their best talent, so all players in the state have the opportunity to progress through the pathway,” Elder said.
“We will certainly work with stakeholders on the north-west coast. Jamie Hayward is now full-time in talent development in that part of the state, so we will work with each individual – both male and female – to make sure they have the right support and resources,” Saunder said.
Elder also emphasised the importance of the Wrest Point TSLW competition.
“Having a strong Wrest Point TSLW competition will support the state’s best talent and provide further pathways for aspiring females who have dreams of playing for the Tasmania Devils in the TAC Cup Women’s competition from 2020 and ultimately the North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos at the AFLW elite level.”
The Launceston Football Club will be on the lookout for a new coach ahead of the 2019 Bupa Tasmanian State League season, with Sam Lonergan confirming his move to South Australia.
Lonergan, 31, will take on the role as head coach of SANFL club Woodville-West Torrens after a two-year stint at Windsor Park.
Lonergan came back to his home state following an 81-game AFL career at Essendon and Richmond and a stint as a player and midfield coach at SANFL club Glenelg.
Lonergan’s return in 2017 saw him steer the Blues to two successive TSL finals campaigns, with his side finishing the 2018 season in third spot before being knocked out in straight sets.
The former Launceston boss will take the reigns after Michael Godden’s nine-year stint at the helm of the Eagles, with Godden taking on an assistant coach role with Adelaide.
Speaking to the Mercury newspaper, Launceston president Sandra Boland insisted the club had no grievance with Lonergan making the move and that plans will immediately be put in place for his replacement.
“The personal interest Sam had for the club meant he gave his heart to us and has left the club in a successful position,” Boland said.
“We had a board meeting and threw ideas around about what type of person we want,” Boland said. “If they are from inside the club, an external person or even from another state that’s something we’ll look at during our selection process.”
What a season it was for the all-conquering Northern Bombers.
The North Launceston Football Club entered the 2018 Bupa TSL season looking to further build on one of Tasmanian football’s great dynasties.
With four straight Grand Final appearances, three of which saw the club clinch the ultimate prize (2014 – ’15, ’17), the Northern Bombers were under pressure to deliver again this season, with 2017 premiership skipper Taylor Whitford taking the coaching reigns to great expectation.
Following in the footsteps of Zane Littlejohn and Tom Couch, Whitford coached his group brilliantly, maintaining the Bombers’ dynamic ball movement and stingy defence to see off a range of contenders.
With Glenorchy, Launceston, Clarence and then Lauderdale right on their heels throughout the season, the Northern Bombers continually looked the form team of the competition, going down just twice for the season (to Glenorchy in round 3 and Clarence in round 12).
Established stars Tom Bennett, Josh Ponting, Mark Walsh, Alex Lee, Brad Cox-Goodyer and Taylor Whitford continued to impress, while fresh faces Sherrin Egger, Dakota Bannister, Jordan Cousens, Beau Sharman and Michael Tang immediately impressed when first blooded into the senior team.
After finishing as minor premier in 2017 with 16 wins and a percentage of 181.55%, the Bombers actually improved in 2018, with the same number of wins but a percentage of 201.45%.
The Bombers kicked only one more point this season, but conceded over 100 less, meaning the side’s potency inside 50 wasn’t hindered as the defence became even tighter.
Contenders came and went throughout the year, but in Taylor Whitford’s maiden season at the helm, the Northern Bombers once again claimed the throne as the competition’s top dog.
Renowned as ‘Mr. Dependable’ in defence, Jay Foon played an integral role in the Northern Bombers’ claiming the minor premiership. His season was cruelly cut short by a nasty injury, but his performances were as important as anyone’s in putting North Launceston in the box seat for another flag, one that they ultimately won.
Tom Bennett (CHF)
Arguably the best marking forward in the TSL, Bennett’s vice-like grip and sharp shooting for goal makes him a dynamic force inside 50. Mobile, athletic and smart, Bennett’s season made him a clear choice for centre half forward in the Team of the Year.
Brad Cox-Goodyer (HFF + Captain)
It was an injury-interrupted campaign for the premiership skipper, but one that still saw him enhance his reputation as one of the TSL’s most explosive players. The 2017 Baldock and Lynch Medalist kicked 36 goals from just 14 games, often rolling between the forward 50 and midfield. A worthy captain of this team.
Taylor Whitford (FOLL + Assistant Coach)
The added responsibility of coaching did nothing to diminish Taylor Whitford’s output, with the 2017 premiership skipper and 2018 premiership coach dominating as a goal-kicking on-baller. Finished as the season’s fifth highest goal kicker and tied for the RACT Insurance Player of the Year award. Whitford’s campaign was sensational.
Zach Burt (INT)
One of the most versatile players in the league, Burt kicked 29 goals for the season – despite finishing the year as a regular centre half back. A star at both ends of the ground, Burt can break a game open inside 50 or act as a wall across half back.
Josh Ponting (INT)
Few win more of the football than Josh Ponting, with the eventual Lynch Medalist a star around stoppages. Ponting worked brilliantly alongside the likes of Taylor Whitford, Mark Walsh and Brad Cox-Goodyer to supply silver service to the Bombers’ elite forward line.
Best and Fairest:
Yet to be held.
For a second straight season, a North Launceston player took home the Alastair Lynch Medal, with Josh Ponting leading all comers with 23 votes – edging out captain and 2017 Lynch Medalist Brad Cox-Goodyer (14 votes).
Zach Burt also finished in the top 10 with 12 votes, while Taylor Whitford and Jordan Cousens polled six votes apiece.
RACT Insurance Player of the Year:
Playing coach Taylor Whitford was a standout for the Northern Bombers in 2018, amassing 18 votes en route to becoming a joint winner alongside Glenorchy’s Daniel Joseph. Josh Ponting (11) and Tom Bennett (10) were also contenders for much of the year, while Sherrin Egger also notched eight votes.
The Rising Star:
Sherrin Egger‘s first season as a Bomber was stellar, with the former Devonport young gun claiming the Matthew Richardson Medal as the competition’s most outstanding young player. A dogged competitor, Egger combines flashy brilliance with genuine grunt to be yet another crucial weapon in this impressive North Launceston machine.
Fletcher Bennett is another player who continued to improve as the season progressed, showcasing his maturity and speed while playing a variety of roles.
Rhyan Mansell -who attended the State Draft Combine – also continued his rapid development with a terrific campaign, largely as a small defender.
Well, this one is pretty clear. In a near perfect season, the highlights were aplenty, but the 2018 Grand Final triumph – the club’s fourth in five seasons – stands head and shoulders above the rest.
The Bombers were clinical in dismantling Lauderdale in the 2017 decider but faced a much sterner test in 2018, with Lauderdale ensuring the game was a dogged, arm wrestle of a contest.
It proved to be a match that would underline the greatness of this side.
With the Northern Bombers holding a one-point advantage at the first and main breaks, the game was in the balance heading into the third stanza, and the reigning champs responded – kicking the only two goals of the term to take a 16-point lead into the final quarter, one akin to an even greater margin considering the low-scoring nature of the contest and the fact that Lauderdale had only mustered the three goals for the game to that point.
The Northern Bombers, having won the arm wrestle, ensured that they won the war from there on out, kicking a further two goals to one in the final term to clinch another historic flag.
Tarryn Thomas was an example of how the Northern Bombers got on top, with the classy utility taking to the skies and hitting the scoreboard to ensure he finished his time as a Bomber in style, while Brad Cox-Goodyer was dominant for almost the game’s entirety – claiming a second straight Baldock Medal as best afield.
Challenged for the throne, the Bombers once again held firm.
It was a season of highs for the Northern Bombers, but the season-ending injury sustained by Jay Foon in round 17 against Glenorchy at KGV Oval was a definite lowlight.
In a freakish accident, Foon suffered a fractured bone in his neck as a result of a tackle, and subsequently missed the remainder of the season.
Floated as a chance of returning for the Grand Final, Foon is clearly a popular member of the group, with the team’s premiership success somewhat soured by the absence of the Team of the Year back pocket.
The 2018 season was one with momentum swings and troughs for the Lauderdale Football Club, but one that saw the Bombers again reach the final game of the season.
Much like the 2017 season, Lauderdale endured a rocky start to the Bupa TSL season, dropping their first three games, however this year was even tougher with coach Darren Winter forced to spend the opening portion of the year out of the coaching saddle on game day.
The absence of Winter came on top of the departures of 2017 stars Dylan Fyfe and Max Kleverkamp, as well as long-term injuries to Thor Boscott and Ethan Whish-Wilson among others – with skipper Bryce Walsh also going down with a long-term injury in round one.
With these absences came some fresh faces, however, with Northern Territory recruits Tim Mosquito and Henry Kerinaiua immediately settling into life as Bombers.
The continued development of familiar faces Haydn Smith and Nat Franklin also beared fruit, and although the Bombers struggled to get into top gear early, six wins from seven games in the middle section of the season helped Lauderdale prepare for a tilt at the pointy end of the season once again.
The addition of Jacob Gillbee and return of Thor Boscott, in conjunction with Tim Mosquito, Henry Kerinaiua, Ben McGuinness and Ed Stanley saw the Bombers boast one of the competition’s most dynamic attacking groups, with wins over Clarence in round 15 and Glenorchy in round 16 underlining exactly what the southern Bombers are capable of.
With Haydn Smith becoming of the best rucks in the competition, Phil Bellchambers and Nat Franklin performing consistently out of the middle and Josh McGuinness leading an impressive back six, Lauderdale managed to work through early season injury concerns and later injuries to Ben McGuinness and Ryan Wiggins, en route to a remarkable finals run that saw the Bombers clash with their northern counterparts on the most important day of the TSL season for a second straight season.
5th (W: 10, L: 8, %: 102.01) – defeated by North Launceston in Grand Final
Jacob Gillbee – 26 goals
Team of the Year Representatives: 3
Josh McGuinness (HBF + Vice Captain)
Consistency is the pillar of McGuinness’ game, with his professionalism clear to see on game day. A cool head in defence, McGuinness found himself playing a variety of roles throughout the season and proved to be a match-winner, whether it was his defensive actions or offence off half back.
Phil Bellchambers (C)
Emerged as the general of this Lauderdale midfield, thriving as a leader in the middle. More midfield time has seen Bellchambers take his game to another level as he continues to display his explosiveness, strength and power.
Nat Franklin (RR)
Backed up a terrific campaign with another consistent season. Stepped up in the absence of injured skipper Bryce Walsh and did so with aplomb, winning the hard ball and feeding it out to prime movers or breaking the lines from stoppages himself. A metronome in the middle.
Best and Fairest:
Phil Bellchambers took home the Best and Fairest award for 2018, due recognition for another consistent campaign from the midfielder. Star defender Josh McGuinness just finished behind Bellchambers to claim runners-up honours.
Lauderdale enjoyed an even spread of contributors in 2018, and this was reflected at the Tasmanian Footy Awards, with Haydn Smith and Rhys Sutton (10 votes each) topping the Bombers’ tally en route to the competition’s top 10. Phil Bellchambers was narrowly behind with nine votes, as was Nat Franklin with eight. However, Josh McGuinness – the Team of the Year vice captain – failed to poll a single vote in one of the surprises of the season.
RACT Insurance Player of the Year:
Phil Bellchambers (nine votes), Josh McGuinness (eight) and Haydn Smith (eight) caught the most attention from the media, all finishing inside the top 10 for votes.
The Rising Star:
Oscar Shaw emerges as a clear choice here, with his rising stocks highlighted by the fact that he manned North Launceston star Tom Bennett in the Grand Final. A nuggetty defender who can play small or tall, the 17-year-old is a fearless competitor who often shows no caution for his own safety, with his willingness to run back with the flight an early trademark of his game.
Tyler Martin is another player to keep an eye on moving forward, as although he missed the back half of the season, he displayed potency inside 50 earlier in the season to become another avenue to goal.
The southern Bombers’ finals campaign has got to be the side’s 2018 highlight, with Darren Winter’s men becoming the first side to make the Grand Final after finishing outside the top four.
The Bombers opened their finals campaign with a 58-point win over Eastern Shore rivals Clarence in the Elimination Final, with a Jacob Gillbee bag of five and Josh McGuinness’ sensational role on Jake Cox, proving influential in securing an emphatic victory, that at one point looked likely to get to beyond 80 points.
Lauderdale backed this effort up in style against Launceston at UTAS Stadium, overcoming an early arm wrestle to record a sensational 72-point win and knock the Blues out of the 2018 finals series.
Ed Stanley bobbed up to be the hero on this occasion with seven goals, while Henry Kerinaiua’s bag of four and another stellar effort from Josh McGuinness saw the Bombers march into a second straight Preliminary Final.
And from there, the Bombers also booked a second straight Grand Final appearance, storming home from a five goal deficit with a scintillating nine goal to four second half (and five goal to one final quarter).
Thor Boscott was the fire-starter for the Bombers, kicking four in a strong performance, while Robbie McManus and Henry Kerinaiua continued their strong finals campaigns to make history and book the coastal club’s second ever Grand Final ticket.
While Lauderdale’s successful run throughout the finals series was a clear highlight for the side, a second straight Grand Final loss would have to be the low-light – despite the side putting in a far more competitive performance this time around.
Lauderdale, obliterated in the 2017 decider, forced the Northern Bombers into an arm wrestle 12 months on, and although Lauderdale restricted the reigning premier to seven goals, they only kicked four in response, with North Launceston clinching the flag with a 30-point triumph.
It was a far more competitive performance from Darren Winter’s side this time around, but the hurt of a lost Grand Final makes this the clear lowlight of the season for the club.
Paul Kennedy’s first season at KGV proved to be a fruitful one, steering the ‘Pies to a top two spot, all while building a platform for success moving forward.
It is difficult to not be positive about Glenorchy’s 2018 TSL campaign, with the Magpies recording victories against every club this season and perennially sitting inside the competition’s top four.
Despite battling niggling injury issues to Zac Webster, Brayden Webb and others, Glenorchy kept finding ways to win, with many of these victories built off the back of terrific defensive performances, with Josh Grant, Josh Arnold, Harrison Gunther and Daniel Joseph forming arguably the competition’s best defensive quartet.
With the likes of Jack Stevenson, Bayley Bester, Jye Bearman, William Atkin, Adam Roberts and Chris McKnight all gaining invaluable senior football experience, Kennedy managed to find the delicate balance between developing emerging talent and remaining competitive as a premiership threat.
Add to this the strong form of leaders Daniel Joseph and Rhys Mott and the rapid improvement of Harrison Gunther and Ben Kamaric – arguably two of the most improved players in the league – and you have a remarkably productive and successful season that will lay the foundation for potential future success.
Another key target to aid Jaye Bowden inside 50 may be the focus for the Magpies this summer, but there is enough talent here to suggest that the Magpies will be a force again in 2019.
2nd (W: 11, L: 7, %: 140.57) – knocked out by Lauderdale in Preliminary Final
Jaye Bowden – 46 goals
Team of the Year Representatives: 6
Josh Grant (FB)
One of the competition’s most consistent performers, Grant was rarely beaten – despite usually taking the opposition’s best key forward. A determined competitor, Grant’s ability to compete and nullify his opponent works brilliantly alongside his smart footy brain and skills out of the back half.
Daniel Joseph (HBF)
After impressing at the Aspley Hornets in the NEAFL, Daniel Joseph’s return to KGV in 2018 was stellar, becoming the competition’s best running defender. Capable of walking the fine line between defence and attack, Joseph provided this side with leadership, class and almighty skill.
Rhys Mott (W)
The productive midfielder got better and better as the season progressed, registering yet another Team of the Year nod. One of the best kicks in the state, Mott was a key part in Glenorchy’s strong season.
Jaye Bowden (HFF)
The Glenorchy stalwart enjoyed another strong season in 2018, kicking 46 goals to finish as the Magpies’ leading goalkicker and the competition’s second. Spent time in a variety of positions to further heighten his remarkable standing within Tasmanian football.
Harrison Gunther (INT)
One of the most improved players in the competition, Gunther’s shift from mobile forward to intercepting defender was a masterstroke. A terrific reader of the play, Gunther was a force out of the back half, cutting off many an offensive pursuit and working as an architect out of the back half.
Paul Kennedy (Assistant Coach)
A sensational debut season at KGV, Kennedy helped the Magpies emerge as a genuine contender in 2018, all the while blooding a host of youngsters to complement the team’s contingent of stars. Kennedy could not have made a better impression in his first season within the TSL.
Best and Fairest:
Daniel Joseph won the R.H ‘Banjo’ Patterson Best and Fairest Trophy in 2018, ahead of Harrison Gunther (second) and Josh Arnold (third).
Ruckman Cameron Duffy found himself at the pointy end of the Lynch Medal count for much of the night, polling 13 votes in a strong campaign.
Daniel Joseph, with 10 votes, was again noticed by the umpires, while pocket rocket Callen Daly also finished with eight after a dynamic season.
RACT Insurance Player of the Year:
Daniel Joseph was the pick of the Magpies according to the media, finding himself as the RACT Insurance Player of the Year leader for much of the season before eventually polling 18 votes to finish as a joint winner alongside North Launceston playing-coach Taylor Whitford.
Three-time RACT Insurance Player of the Year Jaye Bowden was also a standout, finishing with nine votes, while Rhys Mott also picked up six votes of his own.
The Rising Star:
The Magpies’ blooded a host of emerging stars this season, with players like Adam Roberts, Jack Stevenson and Bayley Bester particular standouts.
Roberts developed into a crucial cog across half forward and on the wing and looks to be a ready-made senior TSL player, while Bayley Bester also looked the same inside 50 with his knack for hitting the scoreboard.
Stevenson’s willingness to throw himself at every contest in defence made him an instant favourite at KGV, with his performances as part of the Tassie Mariners underlining his exciting potential.
It was an entertaining season for fans of the black and white, with the team delivering many a highlight, however, the 14-point Qualifying Final triumph over Launceston sits as one of the club’s greatest victories in recent memory.
The Magpies were dealt a huge blow in the opening quarter, with star forward Jaye Bowden seen clutching his knee after taking a strong mark. Leaving the field and not returning, the loss of Glenorchy’s leading goalkicker resulted in many questioning how the Magpies would kick a winning score against a potent Launceston outfit.
Launceston capitalised on the absence of Bowden, bounding away to a 35-point lead late in the second term, and with Chayce Jones and Brodie Palfreyman controlling the midfield battle, it looked as if the Magpies were down and out, however goals from late inclusion Brodie Rowbottom and Bayley Bester in the dying minutes of the half saw the Magpies trail by an even four goals at the main break.
Glenorchy toiled away in the third term, kicking three goals to two to remain in the contest, but with so many young bodies, it was expected that the Magpie would eventually tire and be overrun.
Boy was this premonition wrong, however.
The Magpies were simply brilliant in the final term, defending with insatiable hunger and attacking with devastating effect – kicking six goals to none to complete a stunning 35-point turnaround and book another double chance in the finals series.
Leaders Daniel Joseph, Brayden Webb and Cameron Duffy were all enormous for the ‘Pies, but it was late inclusion Brodie Rowbottom who proved to the spark, kicking four goals in a remarkable display.
For a side missing one of their club’s greatest ever players, this was a win for the ages, and one that highlighted the never-say-die ethos the club embodied in 2018.
Preliminary Final losses are always the toughest to swallow, and Glenorchy’s 18-point loss to Lauderdale at Blundstone Arena this season was no exception.
The Magpies competed remarkably well throughout the night, taking a 16-point lead into the main break and a six-point lead into the final term, despite missing the likes of Jaye Bowden and Josh Grant; Cameron Duffy being forced off the field with injury and Brayden Webb playing out the game with a broken leg.
The Bombers probed to be too fresh in the final stanza, kicking five goals to one to run over the top of the undermanned ‘Pies and book a Grand Final ticket.
Although the Preliminary Final loss was a lowlight, the competitiveness of the group and gallant endeavour makes this a more admirable effort than most season lowlights.
Entering the season as one of the teams to beat, Launceston’s 2018 campaign proved to be something resembling a rollercoaster.
The Blues welcomed some emerging and established talent ahead of the season, with the likes of Mitch Thorp, Dylan Riley, Jobi Harper, Ethan Jackson, Blair Rubock and Giacomo Millucci just some of the names that came across to Windsor Park.
The Blues’ season was anything but predictable, with periods of scintilating, dominant football followed by flat patches that saw the team fighting to hold on to a top three spot.
Sitting in second spot with a 6-2 record after nine rounds, Launceston looked set to perhaps be cross-town rival North Launceston’s biggest threat for the TSL crown, however things started to falter for Sam Lonergan’s side, with the Blues enduring a five-match losing streak that included a shock loss to the Tigers on the road and a heartbreaking one-point loss to the Northern Bombers in round 15.
This form slump threatened to dash Launceston’s aspirations of registering a double chance, with the team falling to fifth, three wins behind second-placed Clarence and two wins behind the third-placed Magpies.
This round 15 loss under Friday night lights saw the Blues lead for most of the encounter and threaten a boilover, but the fast-finishing Bombers did just enough in the final term to kick four goals to one and snatch a thrilling one-point win.
Although heartbreaking, this narrow loss appeared to help the Blues turn the corner, with Launceston finishing the home and away season as one of the competition’s form outfits with five straight wins.
Lonergan showed his willingness to flick the magnets week to week as the Blues looked to find a winning formula throughout this period.
Dylan Riley, who spent the start of the season across half back, moved to full forward and made an immediate impact, allowing Mitch Thorp to play further afield and provide another marking target.
Riley was particularly impressive in this narrow loss, kicking four goals in a dominant display.
Rulla Kelly-Mansell and Jobi Harper both found new homes across half back and played instrumental roles in the form turnaround, while Tim Auckland rejoined the team after Tassie Mariners and SANFL experience to provide another tall option around the ground.
The return of Tassie Mariners captain and draft prospect Chayce Jones was also enormous, with Jones’ oozing class with his composure and deadly skill execution.
The Blues, had another dip in form and fortune, however, with an undermanned Magpie outfit mounting a seriously impressive come-from-behind win in the Qualifying Final at Blundstone Arena and an in-form Lauderdale handing out a 72-point hammering in the Semi Final to bring Launceston’s 2018 season to a grinding conclusion.
Injuries to star midfielder Jay Blackberry and coach Sam Lonergan proved costly, and while the season showed plenty of promise as to what this side can achieve, 2018 will go down as a missed opportunity for a talented outfit.
3rd (W: 11, L: 7 %: 132.71) – knocked out by Lauderdale in Semi Final
Mitch Thorp – 62 (Hudson Medalist)
Team of the Year Representatives: 3
Jobi Harper (CHB)
The 2013 South Launceston premiership star and Darrel Baldock medallist made his long-awaited return to senior footy in 2018 and starred as a utility for Sam Lonergan’s side. Harper started the season in the midfield, but made the move to full back and immediately looked at home. Rarely beaten and a terrific competitor.
Dylan Riley (FP)
One of the competition’s most talented players, Riley spent the back half of 2018 as a deep forward after playing key roles through the midfield and across half back earlier in the year. Finished with 16 goals.
Mitch Thorp (FF)
The competition’s premier forward was just that in his first season at Windsor Park, booting 62 goals. A smart footballer with a bag of tricks, Thorp was simply too big and too strong for many an opposition defender.
Best and Fairest:
Dylan Riley claimed the McAuley Medal as Launceston’s best and fairest, polling 89 votes – 20 clear of second-placed Brodie Palfreyman.
The Blues had a remarkably even season according to the umpires, with 17 players polling votes throughout the season.
Spearhead Mitch Thorp, ruckman Hamish Leedham, utility Jobi Harper and midfield gun Brodie Palfreyman all finished with eight votes each to lead the way, while Jake Hinds (6) and Jamieson House (5) also caught positive attention throughout the season.
RACT Insurance Player of the Year:
Remarkably, Launceston young gun and exciting draft prospect Chayce Jones proved to be the leading RACT Insurance Player of the Year vote-getter in 2018, polling 12 votes from just five regular season games. Jones’ final five games saw him pick up one, two, three, three and three votes respectively. Finishing second on the final leaderboard, who knows how many votes he would’ve polled if he had lined up for a whole season in navy blue.
Rulla Kelly-Mansell’s move to half back saw him pick up nine votes, the next best out of Windsor Park, while Brodie Palfreyman and Mitch Thorp polled seven each.
The Rising Star:
Chayce Jones is the obvious answer here, with the Tasmanian U18 captain and Allies representative taking the competition by storm in the final stretch of the season.
Emerging ruckman Tim Auckland also looks to be a player to keep your eyes on, with the tall gaining experience with Adelaide in the SANFL before returning to Windsor Park and helping the side’s flexibility, with Leedham spending more time forward of centre.
Goalsneak Jack Rushton also looks like an exciting prospect, having kicked 13 goals from 15 games and impressing with his defensive pressure.
Launceston played some scintillating football throughout the season and there was perhaps no greater example than the Blues’ 64-point win over Lauderdale in round 17 at Windsor Park.
The southern Bombers jumped out of the blocks with the opening five goals of the game, but from there it was all Launceston, with the Blues exercising a 95-point turnaround.
This remarkable turnaround was fuelled by a dominant performance off half back by Rulla Kelly-Mansell, the productive Chayce Jones and three goals each from Mitch Thorp and Jake Hinds.
With this win, the Blues mounted a case as being the form side of the competition after moving back into third place.
Bundled out of the finals in straight sets is not the result any top three side is after, with the Blues’ heavy defeat to Lauderdale in the Semi Final clearly the lowlight.
Launceston entered the finals in red-hot form, and after being overrun by an undermanned Glenorchy outfit in the Qualifying Final, were heavily fancied to fight back and book a Preliminary Final ticket.
This wasn’t to be the case, however, with an opening quarter arm wrestle broken apart by the Bombers in the second term, with Ed Stanley’s seven-goal haul fuelling a Bomber blitz and 72-point triumph.
The Blues looked flat throughout, with Lauderdale’s hardness coming to the fore.
The 2018 season was a challenging one for Clarence, with the ‘Roos blooding a plethora of inexperienced and emerging talents while remaining at the pointy end of the ladder for much of the season.
The ‘Roos had a new look in 2018, with a host of mature recruits and emerging youngsters ensuring the club backed up last season’s impressive second-place home and away campaign with another strong year.
Clarence emerged as one of the teams to beat across the front half of the season, spending a large chunk of the year in second place behind North Launceston.
This was, in part, due to the quality performances from an influx of off-season recruits, with Ryan Bailey, Troy Cunliffe, Fletcher Seymour and Taylor Williamson swiftly emerging as some of the team’s most important figures.
With Jeromey Webberley getting consistency and good football out of his body and the team’s stars in Jake Cox and Brady Jones firing, the ‘Roos looked set to be a challenger heading into the back half of the season in second spot after 12 rounds.
Injuries began to mount, however, with the likes of Trent Standen, Jackson O’Brien, Gabby Chambers, Ryan Edmondson, Matt Ling, Keegan Wylie and Wade Wall all suffering injuries throughout the season.
This experience was sorely missed, but it did also allow the ‘Roos to blood new talent, with the club handing an astonishing 15 new faces their Clarence senior debut including Fraser Turner, Oscar Paprotny, Conner Berry, Sam Green and Tom Birchall.
While Turner looks likely to go on to the next level in 2019, the likes of Paprotny, Green, Berry and Birchall gained vital senior TSL experience this season that will hold them, and the club, in good stead moving forward.
With plenty of inexperienced figures and new faces, Clarence did well to remain so competitive throughout the season, with an eventual fourth place finish fitting.
The ‘Roos will be hurting after going down to Lauderdale in a one-sided Elimination Final, but will remain optimistic heading into the summer with an abundance of exciting young players and some stars around them.
4th (W: 11, L: 7, %: 110.85) – knocked out by Lauderdale in Elimination Final
Chris Nield – 28
Team of the Year Representatives: 4
James Holmes (BP)
Another consistent campaign from the 2017 Richardson Medalist. Holmes’ ability to play across the last line of defence and throw himself at every contest was something to behold.
Jake Cox (W)
One of the competition’s most dynamic players had another stellar season, kicking 25 goals as a rotating player on the wing, in the midfield and as a forward. Capable of taking a game away from an opposition off his own boot.
Ryan Bailey (FOLL)
One of the surprise packets of the season, Bailey made the move to join brother Jason and immediately settled in, taking on the key ruck role to make it his own. A strong competitor around the ground with the ability to hit the scoreboard as well as control the hit outs.
Jeromey Webberley (HEAD COACH)
Webberley took an inexperienced and injury-hit group to a finals campaign, with the side spending much of the season in the top two. It’s hard to imagine Webberley getting much more out of his squad in 2018.
Best and Fairest:
Yet to be held.
The ineligible Jake Cox was the leader in the Lynch Medal count for the ‘Roos, polling 14 votes in an impressive season. Cox’s efforts earned him the second most votes in the competition, equal with Brad Cox-Goodyer and behind only Josh Ponting (22).
Recruited pair Troy Cunliffe (11 votes) and Ryan Bailey (10 votes) were not far behind, with both enjoying successful seasons in the red and white.
RACT Insurance Player of the Year:
Clarence featured at the pointy end of the RACT Insurance Player of the Year leaderboard for much of the season, with Ryan Bailey a leading contender in the first half of the year.
Bailey, who polled three votes across a four-round period, finished the year with 10 votes, alongside ‘Roo teammates Brady Jones and Jake Cox.
Like the Lynch Medal race, Troy Cunliffe was also thereabouts, finishing with eight votes.
The Rising Star:
Injuries forced the ‘Roos to blood plenty of new faces in 2018, with the likes of James Brenner, Harry Richmond, Oscar Paprotny, Tom Birchall and Sam Green all playing good senior football.
Birchall and Paprotny were partiuclarly impressive across the back half of the season, while Richmond impressed when in the senior side as a marking forward.
OHA recruit Fletcher Seymour – a former Australian U19 cricketer – also impressed throughout the season, with the 20-year-old becoming a vital cog in this Clarence midfield after starting the season in the Mercury Cup.
Only two sides toppled premier North Launceston in 2018, and Clarence emerged as one of them – recording the most thrilling of two-point victories at Blundstone Arena in round 12.
The ‘Roos controlled much of the opening half to take a five-point lead into the main break but faced an almighty challenge in the third term, conceding 6.1 to 1.1 in the third quarter to trail by 25 points heading into the final stanza.
The ‘Roos were brilliant in the final term, however, kicking five goals to none – the last of which, via ruckman Ryan Bailey, came in dramatic circumstances.
Bailey had three late chances to put the ‘Roos back in front in the dying moments, with his first – a checkside attempt from five metres out hitting the post.
Moments later Bailey dropped an uncontested mark inside 50 to squander another opportunity before redeeming himself as the beneficiary of a free kick just seconds later to convert his set shot and seal an important victory that put Clarence within striking distance of top spot.
Several contenders here, with Clarence’s stunning run of form (including wins over Launceston, North Launceston) coming to a grinding halt in round 13, where the ‘Roos suffered a 53-point hammering at the hands of Glenorchy at KGV. The Magpies kicked 10 goals to three in the opening half – where all three Clarence goals came within a five-minute period late in the second term.
The clear lowlight for the ‘Roos, however, was an Elimination Final loss to Eastern Shore rival Lauderdale at Blundstone Arena.
In a hotly anticipated fixture, the ‘Roos were flat, struggling to get going against a slick Bomber outfit.
Injuries severely hurt the ‘Roos in this encounter, with Ryan Bailey the biggest blow, and Lauderdale made the hosts pay, kicking 14 goals to three across the opening three terms to set up a 58-point win and draw curtains on Clarence’s 2017 season.
Trent Baumeler’s first season at the helm of the Tigers proved to be a bit of a mixed bag with competitive performances marred by injuries to key players and an unflattering win-loss record.
The Tigers entered the new season with a new coach and a host of new faces, with the likes of Ryan Matthews, Will Campbell and Blake Grant headlining a raft of additions at the Twin Ovals.
These additions bolstered the Tigers’ stocks significantly, but the season as a whole proved to tell a similar tale, with the Tigers winning one less game than 2017.
Injuries proved catastrophic throughout the season, with stars Marcus Davies and Ryan Matthews only playing four games together for the entire season.
Add to this significant injuries to midfield gun Lachy Clifford and key defender Jake Doran in the back half of the season and the Tigers often struggled to put their upper echelon of players on the park at the same time.
With injury often comes opportunity, however, with Blake Grant’s shift into a more permanent midfield role a clear example of how the Tigers will take positives out of the campaign.
The Tigers’ 3-15 win-loss record, although unflattering, perhaps doesn’t do justice to the side’s competitiveness for much of the season, with the Tigers narrowly falling short after being in competitive positions several times throughout the season.
The Tigers were hugely competitive against Grand Finalists Lauderdale in all three meetings this season, headlined by a tight opening three quarters in round four and a stunning final term comeback in round 18, where the Luke Graham-inspired Tigers kicked six goals to none in the final term before falling short by the smallest of margins.
The Tigers also took it up to the eventual premier North Launceston, kicking five consecutive goals in the final quarter at UTAS Stadium back in round nine to get to within nine points with 10 minutes remaining.
These passages, as well as competitive losses to Clarence and Glenorchy, highlighted that the team’s best football can trouble the competition’s best, however, these moments were often just that – moments.
The development of Hugh Johnston into a consistent ruckman has been immense, with performances throughout the season showing his significant upside.
Luke Graham and Edward Burrows-Cheng shouldered much of the load inside 50 throughout the season, and with Mitch Carter set to depart back to Western Australia, reinforcements inside forward 50 will likely be the Tigers’ number one priority this summer.
6th (W: 3, L: 15, %: 68.77)
Luke Graham – 29
Team of the Year Representatives: 2
Luke Graham (FP)
Kicked the most goals of any small forward in the competition. Developed into a genuine star.
Mitch Carter (INT)
Played predominantly as a forward this season and led from the front. An elite kick and smart footballer who will be sorely missed when he departs back to Western Australia.
Best and Fairest:
Mitch Carter took out his second Ray Lorkin Medal as the Tigers best and fairest player, with Will Campbell and Blake Grant also finishing on the podium in second and third respectively.
Midfield star Will Campbell was the leading Tiger according to the whistle-blowers, polling 7 votes. Marcus Davies‘ strong finish to the season also saw him earn 4 votes for the year.
RACT Insurance Player of the Year:
Experienced duo Mitch Carter and Marcus Davies both topped the tally for the Tigers according to the media, finishing with six votes each.
Goalsneak Luke Graham also impressed – particularly in the second half of the season – to finish with five votes.
The Rising Star:
Some exciting talent stepped up in the yellow black in 2018, with the promise shown by talented forward Cooper Sawdy and the likes of Bailey Gordon and Nic Hutchinson more than enough to excite Tiger fans. Sawdy, who only played five games this season due to injury, looms as an exciting forward target.
Having won just the one match in the opening 12 rounds of the season, few could have predicted the Tigers toppling the fancied Blues in round 13, particularly after the Blues handed the Tigers a 91-point loss in round six.
The Tigers kicked four goals to one in the opening term to get the early jump in a low-scoring tussle at the Twin Ovals, and after then taking a one-point lead into the main break, kicked three goals to two in the third term and two goals to none in the last to record a stirring victory.
Luke Graham, Mitch Carter and Mitchell Cooke all finished with two goals each in the win, while Will Campbell’s efforts in the midfield also proved crucial.
The key figure in the result, however, was Micah Reynolds, who in his first senior TSL match for the season, kept eventual Hudson Medalist Mitch Thorp to just one goal with an inspired defensive performance.
This was made all the more impressive by the fact that Thorp kicked eight when the sides previously met back in round six.
The Tigers proved to be the only side to have gone down to North Hobart in 2018, suffering an eight-point loss at the Twin Ovals in round eight.
It was a tough pill to swallow for the fancied Tigers, with a host of former Demons lining up in the yellow and black.
North Hobart, inspired by the return of Melbourne veteran Colin Garland, held the lead for the entirety of the match and managed to hold on in the final term to inflict the Tigers’ most shattering loss for the season.
The 2018 Bupa Tasmanian State League season was incredibly difficult for the North Hobart Demons, but exposure for some young stars and some off field stability indicates that a positive future is on the horizon.
A new (but old) name, a new coach and a raft of player changes made the build-up to the 2018 TSL season an interesting one for the Demons.
The departure of Kane Richter to Cairns saw well-respected assistant coach Richard ‘Bear’ Robinson take the reigns of head coach, however the loss of 2017 best and fairest Ryan Matthews and runner-up Will Campbell, as well as a host of other key players including Blake Grant, Jake Doran and Nic Hutchinson, to the Tigers, made for a tumultuous summer.
The season proper proved to be a tough slog, with the side winning just the one game, however the boost of having former Melbourne Demon Colin Garland to the club as a player (when fit), mentor and assistant coach proved invaluable.
Add to this the exposure the likes of Samuel Collins, Samuel Caswell, Callum Kilpatrick, Mitchell O’Neill, Jake Steele, Will Peppin and others received from playing key roles at senior level, and the 2018 season looks likely to hold the club in good stead moving forward.
Add some bigger, more experienced bodies and this group has the nucleus of an extremely talented side that will be able to make big strides in the right direction over the coming years.
Stability off field with a raft of players re-signing and the recruitment of some more experienced bodies should excite the North Hobart faithful moving forward, although the battle will be covering for so many talented youngsters missing TSL football for State representative duties.
7th (W: 1, L: 17, %: 31.40)
Sean Willis – 14
Team of the Year Representatives: 0
Best and Fairest:
Nathan McCulloch took home the GD Miller Medal after a consistent campaign leading the way in the middle of the ground.
Although hit by injury setbacks at times throughout the season, McCulloch’s footy smarts and experience came to the fore in the absence of more experienced teammates.
Skipper Hugh Williams‘ strong season in defence was also recognised, with the club’s leader finishing second in the GD Miller Medal race after holding the fort and leading by example despite suffering a nasty injury in round four.
Young gun Will Peppin and skipper Hugh NJ Williams finished as joint leaders for the Dees at the Alastair Lynch Medal, with four votes apiece.
Peppin emerged as a player to watch when in the red and blue, having also performed strongly for the Tassie Mariners at the U18 Academy Series.
RACT Insurance Player of the Year:
Skipper Williams also proved to be the standout Demon for the media, finishing as the side’s highest Player of the Year vote-getter with 4. Trent Millhouse and Baxter Norton closely followed with two votes each.
The Rising Star:
Take your pick. North Hobart Oval is proving to be fertile ground for young Tasmanian talent, with the likes of Will Peppin and Sam Collins showing more than enough to indicate that no ceiling should be put on their potential.
The highlight of a tough year for the Demons had to be the side’s only win for the year, an eight-point win over the Tigers at the Twin Ovals in round eight.
Spurred on by the return of former junior and Melbourne Demon veteran Colin Garland, North Hobart delivered an inspired performance to clinch an impressive 7.8 (50) to 5.12 (42) victory.
North Hobart kicked five goals to two in the opening half to open up a healthy buffer and did just enough, kicking 2.4 to the Tigers’ 3.6 in the second half to hold on to a record a famous result.
As the Demons’ first win since going back to the North Hobart name, the efforts of Garland (two goals), and the two Hugh Williams’ in defence proved crucial in providing a highlight in an often challenging campaign.
The emergence of young talent Jake Steele also stood out, with the former basketballer and paddleboarder kicking his first senior goal to set the Demons on the path to victory.
A 144-point loss to Glenorchy in round 18 marked one of the Demons’ lowest ebbs this season.
The visitors were restricted to just 1.5 for the afternoon at KGV Oval, with Josh Cleaver’s goal only coming after the final siren.
Glenorchy were sensational in this encounter, kicking 22.23 to run riot against their inexperienced opposition.