The much anticipated Grand Final replay between the Northern and Southern Bombers took place at UTAS Stadium on Saturday afternoon, and although the visitors looked to turn the tables, the end result was eerily similar to that of last September, writes TSL Digital Reporter Mitchell Jones.
Talk leading in to this contest had people querying weather the grand final defeat would be playing on the minds of Lauderdale, and although this was immediately shut down by Lauderdale senior coach Clinton Brown, the Northern Bombers, fresh off the bye, reminded the visitors of the decider from the first bounce.
The reigning premiers were methodical in their ball movement, as they dominated centre clearances and rebounded out of defence with ease en route to a dominant 19.19 (133) to 5.9 (39) win.
North Launceston brought the heat early with a 7.4 (46) opening quarter, while keeping the visitors scoreless.
Last year’s grand final hero and 2017 Alastair Lynch medalist Brad Cox-Goodyer returned to North Launceston’s line up and had an immediate impact, kicking two first quarter goals while Tom Bennett looked to continue his good goal kicking form also getting on the scoreboard with two early majors.
The daunting signs continued for the Southern Bombers in the second quarter, with the hosts’ forward pressure causing the Lauderdale defence to make costly errors, with Josh Ponting reaping the rewards of one such instance with a good intercept and goal early in the second term.
The dam walls looked likely to break open at this point before Lauderdale formed somewhat of a fightback with a lift in intensity as they started to gain regular forward 50 entries.
Alex Hill slotted two in quick succession midway through the term to give Lauderdale life, before the Northern Bombers tightened the clamps with defensive specialists Jay Foon and Arion Richter-Salter impacting the game out of the back half. The second quarter finished with a flurry of North Launceston goals including one to Jaidyn Harris who slotted a set shot on debut before being swarmed by teammates.
Six scoring shots in the third quarter greatly improved on Lauderdale’s first half as they maintained hope of being able to turn it around and create a contest.
The pain, however, continued for the visitors, as the score line creeped closer to the 2017 Grand Final margin of 87 points as North Launceston playing coach Taylor Whitford continued his impressive best afield performance that finished with three goals.
One of 2018 most in form midfielders Josh Ponting also showed poise being a key possession getter, while Sherrin Egger looks to be a player of the future after another strong performance with his ball use being on display.
The inclusions of Brad Cox-Goodyer who kicked three goals and played forward while also attending center bounces and fly-in player and premiership coach Tom Couch – who found space and showed skill (including a flashy Gaelic style on the run flick up) – both showed how dangerous their impact on a game can be, even without high disposal numbers.
Tom Bennett was particularly impressive for the Northern Bombers, finishing with four majors in a display that further underlined his status as a star of the competition, according to assistant coach Adrian Smith.
“When the ball is in his area, he is probably one the most dominant forward in the competition,” Smith said.
Former Gold Coast Suns player Jacob Gilbee made his second senior appearance for Lauderdale and showed moments of class with some strong marks and two majors on what was otherwise a dark day for Lauderdale.
Lauderdale interim coach Clint Brown conceded the Northern Bombers were simply too strong, but still found some positives to take out of the clash, particularly the performance of Jeremiah Perkins, who has grasped his opportunity in the senior side this season.
“[They are] simply just a better and classy outfit and we are well behind them.
“He [Perkins] played on a couple of guys that were a lot taller than him and competed well. He has pretty much cemented his spot in the senior side with that effort,” Brown said.
The only injury to come out of the match was Bart McCulloch North Launceston’s key position forward, who succumbed to a hamstring injury.
The Northern Bombers will play cross town rival Launceston in round eight, while Lauderdale will host Eastern Shore rival Clarence.