Lauderdale midfielder Nat Franklin is confident his side is only getting better after claiming two big scalps to get season 2018 back on track.
The Bombers started the season in indifferent form, dropping their opening three matches. Wins over the Tigers and North Hobart provided some spark to the campaign before a crushing defeat in the round seven Grand Final Replay threatened to derail the season once more.
The external view of Lauderdale has changed dramatically over the past few weeks, with stirring wins over Glenorchy and Launceston in consecutive weeks seeing the Bombers now take a 4-5 win-loss record into the round 11 bye as the competition begins to reassess its expectations on what the southern Bombers can achieve in 2018.
Nat Franklin, a consistent performer throughout the season so far, puts this return to form down to a relatively new group of players settling into life as a senior Bomber.
“We lost a lot of our team from last year, plus injuries to Thor Boscott in the preseason and Bryce Walsh in round one. We had a lot of guys coming into our preseason pretty late which made it sort of hard for us all to get our game plan locked down.
“We all supported the game plan and backed in the coaches and the plan, but we didn’t have the cattle to execute it during games.
“Not many people backed us to win but there is a quiet confidence in the group that we can go out and get the job done. Now the team is starting to jell, players are finding their positions in the team and know their roles and I think that’s really helping us,” Franklin said.
This change in personnel from last season’s Grand Final to the win over Launceston is stark, with the likes of Bryce Walsh (injured), Thor Boscott (injured), Dylan Fyfe (interstate), Max Kleverkamp (interstate), Ethan Whish-Wilson (injured), Scott Hill (injured) and Mitch Anderton (Mariners) all missing.
After chopping and changing some roles in recent weeks, the Bombers look to have found the formula while Walsh and Boscott particularly remain on the sidelines.
Northern Territory recruits Tim Mosquito and Henry Kerinaiua look to be getting better with each and every week while young guns Leo Harrison and Oscar Shaw have impressed with their courage and hunger for the contest.
The Bombers have also tinkered with its forward set-up after struggling to kick big scores earlier in the season, with star recruit Jacob Gillbee and emerging key position prospect Tyler Martin both hitting the scoreboard in recent weeks, with the win over Launceston seeing 11 players kick at least one goal.
“A key has to us winning games has definitely been people finding their role in the team and feeling comfortable. We have had a few positional changes and different people coming in and out but I think we are starting to find the team that will be able to go out and execute the game plan Windy, Brownie and the rest of the coaching staff have put forward to us,” Franklin said.
Although two wins in the middle of the season is far from a guarantee that the Bombers will be able to go make it to the grand final like they did in 2017, Franklin insists the group is quietly confident that they can cause some havoc in 2018.
“I think we can go all the way. The last few weeks we have shown, even in the loss to Clarence where we controlled the game for most of it and let it slip in the last quarter, that our best footy can compete with the best in the competition.
“Finals and the Grand Final are a long way away but I think we are improving every week, so I believe we can shake it up,” he said.