Written by Mitch Stagg. Featured Image: Paul Scambler, The Examiner.
Launceston registered its first win of the season with a convincing 131-point victory over an outclassed North Hobart oufit in idyllic conditions at Windsor Park.
The Blues kicked 21.21.147 to the Demons 2.4.16; with star recruit Mitch Thorp kicking seven goals in an imposing performance for the home side.
The former Devonport and South Launceston coach took full advantage of the Blues midfield dominance, as the Demons defenders struggled to contain his aerial prowess. Blues coach Sam Lonergan was thrilled with Thorp’s performance, after the big man was well held against a disciplined North Launceston in their opening round clash last week.
“It was exciting to see a key forward moving that well in the navy blue again and to see Mitch take that role and make it his own and the result was seven goals and eight behinds.” Coach Lonergan said.
Thorp also relieved Blues co-captain Hamish Leedham in the ruck at stages, displaying his versatility and experience, in a move that is set to continue for the rest of the season.
“Mitch is enjoying it and it gives him an opportunity to use his aerobic capacity to move up and down the ground and it’s a good advantage for us to have.” Lonergan said.
The Blues started slowly in the encounter, failing to capitalize on a litany of forward entries. The Demons enjoyed a strong 10-minute patch midway through the term, but the Blues defence held firm through Jimmy Aganas, Dylan Riley and Joe Boyce as they entered the first change with a 17 point advantage.
In the second term, the Blues midfielders began to flex their muscle, as Jack Donnellan, Brodie Palfreyman and 100 gamer Sam Rundle propelled the ball forward from the stoppages. Sonny Whiting began to find his groove and kicked the first two goals of the quarter, combing with Thorp to give the Blues a 40-point lead at the main break.
The second half was all one-way traffic, as Jay Blackberry imposed himself on the contest, benefiting from some silver service from Hamish Leedham in the ruck. The silky left footer combined with Jake Smith and Rulla Kelly-Mansell to dismantle a hapless Demons defence, who were rendered powerless to stop their pinpoint delivery into the forward 50.
In addition to Thorp’s bag of seven, Whiting would finish with four majors of his own, responding strongly after a quiet performance in round one.
“He (Whiting) got plenty of shots on goal and it was great to see him at his best and being that elusive small forward.” Lonergan said.
The Demons could only muster a solitary behind after half time and Coach Richard Robinson conceded that his young side struggled to contain the experience of a clinical Blues outfit.
“We mentioned that players like Mitch Thorp, Sonny Whiting and Jay Blackberry have been really good senior footballers for many years and they have been good players through their hard work.
“We just have to make sure that our players keep doing the extras, keep sticking together and get the right habits that are going to make them good TSL footballers.” Coach Robinson said.
In a dark day for the Demons, promising teenagers William Peppin and Jacques Barwick were their sole goal kickers for the match, but Robinson remained committed to providing his young players with senior opportunities.
“I think I have got to keep sticking with the current group. We are on a long journey together and it is going to take time. I will keep putting games into these players because I think we have got a bright future.” Robinson said.
Lonergan was noncommittal about his chances of returning to the side next week, after gaining valuable match fitness in the Development league upon return for a hamstring strain. Boom recruit Jobi Harper also got through his first match as a Blue at the lower level, as they look towards a clash against Lauderdale away next week.
“For the both of us it’s about getting in Monday and checking with the physio and making sure that we tick the boxes that they require us to tick. From that perspective, we fall into line with the rest of the playing group.
“It’s our time to play through the development league and make sure our bodies are right to play senior footy and if they’re we will be selected and if they’re not, we won’t be.” Coach Lonergan said.
The Demons will need to regroup quickly, as they face southern rival Clarence fresh off the bye in round three.