It was the sweetest of wins on Saturday for the Tigers as they claimed one of the biggest victories in their state league history with an upset win over Launceston and as Ryan Rosendale writes, it was on the back of a 22-man effort.
It’s often said in football circles that if you provide the effort and intent week after week but fail to come out on-top, soon enough things will click and you’ll get that reward for effort.
This was exactly the case for the Tigers on Saturday afternoon, who after string of close losses to top five sides Glenorchy (20 and 26 points – round five and 11), North Launceston (30 points – round nine) and Lauderdale (26 points – round 12), defeated third-placed Launceston by 15 points at the Twin Ovals.
The 9.4 (58) to 6.7 (43) victory was the Tigers first since round one and came on the back of losing two of their best players last week – Ryan Matthews (broken collarbone – season) and Marcus Davies (suspension – one week).
“Good reward for effort (the win). We feel like we’ve been building, especially over the last three weeks where we started to turn around a few things in our game-style and change a bit of personnel around where they play on the ground,” Tigers coach Trent Baumler said post-match.
“I’ve started to get that feeling where we are the kings of the honourable loss, around three or four goals, where we push teams but don’t quite get there so hopefully today we’ve learnt to win and we got that reward for effort.”
Baumler’s men raced out of the blocks, kicking the first three goals of the game through Luke Graham (two) and Blake McCulloch before Launceston coach Sam Lonergan kicked the first of his three for the day in his return game from injury.
It was then in the second where the Blues played their best football of the day, holding the Tigers goalless and kicking three of their own yet they still trailed by a point at the half.
The second-half saw a much tighter affair with a number of lead changes throughout, but it was the Tigers defence that held strong, limiting the Blues to only two goals in the third quarter before keeping them scoreless in the last.
In only his second game of the season, Micah Reynolds was superb in limiting the influence of spearhead Mitch Thorp, holding the competition’s leading goal scorer to the solitary major.
“Micah’s job on Mitch Thorp was outstanding,” Baumler said.
“We identified mid-week that we would try a different approach with Thorp because he kicked the eight on us last time and Micah’s got a pretty good leap on him and he’s strong. No doubt he would have had a lot of spoils (today) and he made Mitch earn everything he got.”
While Baumler also heaped praise on fellow defender Nic Hutchinson’s ability to intercept and create contests across half-back, he was super impressed with Lachy Watt’s defensive forward role on Dylan Riley.
Yet it was a number of ‘smaller’ instances throughout the game that typified the Tigers hunger for victory.
The first, a set of Will Campbell smothers just minutes apart in the third-term, one of which resulted in a goal to debutant Mitch Cooke and the second a brilliant chase down by Matthew Coad at the twenty-minute mark of the last quarter.
Both showed that, should that consistent effort and intent become a staple of this Tigers outfit, they can match it with anyone in the competition.
For the Blues, Lonergan was adamant post-match that while the talent is there it was more about getting the collective better as a whole after their third straight loss.
“We’ve just got to get our guys up and going. We’ve got a talented list, a deep list. Our Mercury Cup went out and won by 90-odd points (today) so that shows we’ve got the talent, but we’ve just got to apply the work ethic and I just think we are just lacking that at the moment,” Lonergan said.
While not naming himself personally, Lonergan’s smarts around goal were one of the highlights for the Blues while Simon Vandervelde’s aerial support down-back was praised by his coach.
The job doesn’t get easier for either team this week as the Blues hit the road again to face Glenorchy at KGV while the Tigers square up against Clarence at Bloodstone Arena.
Both games will kick off at 2:00PM this Saturday.
Tigers 4.2, 4.4, 7.4, 9.4 (58)
Launceston 1.0, 4.3, 6.6, 6.7 (43)
Tigers: L. Graham 2, M. Carter 2, M. Cooke 2, H. Thompson, L. Clifford, B. McCulloch
Launceston: S. Lonergan 3, B. Palfreyman, J. House, M. Thorp
Tigers: M. Reynolds, W. Campbell, M. Carter, L. Graham, N. Hutchinson, L. Watt
Launceston: J. Boyce, S. Vandervelde, J. House, C. Savage, M. Thorp