Fresh off a home ground loss to their cross-town rivals, Launceston hit the highway on Saturday to face a Demons side coming off their first victory the week prior and as Ryan Rosendale writes, the Blues rebounded in exactly the right fashion.
It’s often said in football circles that good teams don’t lose two games on the trot and after a disappointing 53-point loss at home to North Launceston the week prior, Launceston showed they are exactly that with a commanding 107-point win over North Hobart on Saturday.
North Hobart, fresh off their first victory the week prior against rivals Kingborough Tigers, hosted the clash at North Hobart Oval with the men in red and blue keen to atone for their 131-point smashing at the hands of the Blues in round two; yet it was clear from the opening bounce that Launceston where well and truly on-song.
While the end margin wasn’t as great as their previous encounter – 24-point difference – the experienced heads of Launceston were just too good for the young brigade of North Hobart and they ran out eventual winners 24.7 (151) to 7.2 (44).
After a tightly contested opening five minutes of the first term, Launceston were able to break free when spearhead Mitch Thorp hit the scoreboard for his first goal before the visitors kicked seven majors to two to head into the first break with a 32-point lead.
Thorp finished the quarter with three goals and after kicking a further two early into the second, it looked like the competition’s leading goal kicker was on his way to kicking a bag when “Bear” Robinson shifted young Bailey Walker onto Thorp.
Walker then held Thorp to the solitary behind for the remainder of the game with the 18-year old atoning for his previous performance on Thorp and showing the competition that he is a player to watch.
“Bailey was really good,” Bear Robinson said post-match.
“He is only 18 and he played on Thorp in round two (when he kicked seven) and I just didn’t want to throw him to the wolves as such again because obviously they get quite a few inside 50’s and for Bailey’s mental state you don’t want someone to kick another bag on him. But, to his credit, when we moved him onto Thorp halfway through the second quarter.
“I thought he did an outstanding job and kept him goalless.”
While the Dees played their best football in the third quarter, restricting the Blues to four goals, Robinson was strong in his assessment post-game of his side’s performance for the four quarters as a whole.
“To be honest, we’re really disappointed. I thought in the first half our effort was poor. It was 84 to three goals at half-time and our intent was no good, just the amount of missed tackles we had. We spoke about it before the game that Launceston would respond from last week and we just weren’t prepared to take the heat they put on.”
“Thorp got hold of us early and (Jake) Hinds and (Jobi) Harper were dominating. Our first half effort was poor and I thought our last half was okay, but obviously there was too much work to do,” Robinson said.
Blues coach Sam Lonergan, however, was pleased with how his group responded after just their second-loss of the year (both to North Launceston) last week.
“We lost last week on the home deck so to travel south and come away with the win and to play a really solid game (was pleasing). I thought our attention to detail as a whole was a really positive result,” Lonergan said post-match.
With Thorp held quiet by Walker, Sonny Whiting was able to get off the leash and finish the game with six goals with Lonergan more impressed with his work up the ground.
“Sonny was fantastic. He’s a quality individual and for Sonny it (his omission early in the season) was about learning a secondary craft and I thought he did that today.”
“We sent him up onto a wing and he had some inside 50 entries and he was still able to hit the scoreboard as much as he has in the past so we just added another component to his game which makes him more flexible and with such a strong list it gives him more firepower at the back end of the year for selection,” Lonergan said.
While Whiting and Thorp kicked 11 goals between them, Launceston’s spread of 11 individual goal kickers pleased Lonergan, as did the intercept marking work of Jimmy Aganas down back, along with another strong performance from Jobi Harper in the middle.
“Jobi was fantastic. He’s a physical, competitive animal so I think there’s still a lot more to come from Jobi. He’s two games in after 18 months off but he’s finding the football. He has had plus 25 touches in both games and I expect that to increase over the next four to five games as we see a really top level TSL midfielder surfacing again.”
The Blues will again travel south in round 10 when they face a Lauderdale side fresh off a 33-point victory over Glenorchy while Bear Robinson labelled skill execution as the major area of concern for his side as they prepare to face Clarence at Blundstone Arena this Saturday at 2:00PM.
North Hobart – 2.0 3.0 4.2 7.2 (44)
Goals: C. Leek, W. Burgess, C. Kilpatrick, N. McCulloch, C. Ransom
Best: B. Walker, S. Caswell, T. McGinnis
Launceston – 7.2 14.3 18.5 24.7 (151)
Goals: S. Whiting (6), M. Thorp (5), J. Harper (2), S. Rundle (2), G. Millucci (2), J. House (2), D. Riley, J. Hinds, R. Tyrrell, J. Smith, B. Palfreyman
Best: R. Tyrrell, J. Aganas, J. Harper, S. Whiting, A. Liberatore, J. Hinds