Questions surrounding whether Lauderdale can challenge as a genuine premiership threat were answered on Saturday afternoon, with last season’s grand finalists running out 47-point winners over arch rival Clarence to claim the Speak UP! Stay ChatTY Cup and stamp itself as a genuine flag threat.
After being overrun by the ‘Roos after being in a winning position in its last two encounters against Clarence, Lauderdale went one better in round 15, leading at every change before charging home with a ruthless final term to run out 18.8 (116) to 10.9 (69) winners and regain bragging rights on the Eastern Shore once again.
Lauderdale looked the better side for the majority of the contest, with the efforts of game breakers across every line seeing the 2017 grand finalists jump into the top four for the first time this season and set up a genuine tilt at back to back grand final appearances and a maiden premiership flag.
Lauderdale were well-serviced by stars across every line, with the team’s potent firepower coming to the fore in a highly pressurized and fiery encounter.
Josh McGuinness played a selfless shutdown role on the mercurial Jake Cox, keeping him unusually quiet for a game between these two clubs, while Haydn Smith dominated in the ruck, taking strong marks around the ground and competing well aerially.
Tim Mosquito seemed suited to the wide expanses of Blundstone Arena, kicking three goals and setting up several others in a performance that earned him the Stay ChatTY medal, while the consistent seasons of Phil Bellchambers, Rhys Sutton and Nat Franklin continued as the team flaunted its evenness and depth of talent.
Another key question heading into the game, however, was whether Clint Brown’s suggestion mid-week that returning star Thor Boscott would play was smoke and mirrors or the real deal.
When Boscott took to the field on Saturday afternoon it cleared that question up, but another remained; just how will Boscott perform after breaking his foot in January and not playing a game since the Grand Final?
The answer? Dynamically.
Boscott was exceptional as a key forward, competing ferociously at ground level, while also flying for marks, despite being on the comeback trail from a broken foot.
Boscott started with a bang, kicking two goals in the opening term, before kicking a third in the third term, while also setting up several others as he made a successful return to senior football.
“He was really good,” assistant coach Clint Brown said of 23-year-old Boscott post-match.
“He blew up a little bit which is expected after brekaing his foot in January and only starting up his running and training in the last month or so.
“He has missed a lot of footy and a lot of training. He started well and we got more out of him than we thought we would – he provides a target that is hard to combat for opposition teams.”
Unfortunately for Lauderdale it was the opposite tale for key swingman Alex Hill, who after kicking two goals in the opening term and threatening to take the game away from the ‘Roos, dislocated his elbow in the second term before being stretchered from the field.
“Alex has dislocated his elbow, so we won’t know the extent of his injury until after he has an x-ray. He has gone to the hospital with a dislocation, so hopefully, as bad as it sounds to say, t is a clean dislocation and it can slide straight back in,” Brown said.
Lauderdale’s offensive weapons were on full display in the win, with a multi-pronged forward set-up of Ed Stanley (three goals), Boscott (three goals), Tim Mosquito (three goals), Jacob Gillbee (two goals) and Alex Hill (two goals) wreaking havoc as the Bombers became the first team in 2018 to score over 100 points against the ‘Roos.
Despite these positives, Brown knows his side has plenty of room left for improvement.
“We thought out first half was terrible. We started well and got on top early and had good momentum, but we allowed them back into the game.
“They outplayed us in the second quarter and the game should have been pretty even at half time, but luckily we had a 17-point lead.
“We changed a few things up and that probably got us on top late.”
Clarence coach Jeromey Webberley agreed that his side had the better of the contest in the second term and that the game was evenly contested until the final change, ruing some missed opportunities.
“Up until three-quarter time it was a really even game.
“We controlled the game in the second quarter but had an inability to take our chances. At half time it should have been easy, but it was a 16-point deficit and then 24 at the final break, we then get the ball inside 50 from the first centre bounce of the final term, drop a chest mark and they go and kick a goal so we lose our momentum again.
“We lacked a bit of class going inside 50. When we took the ball forward we either scored or the ball rebounded out. We didn’t put it in an area of the ground that enabled us to defend.
“Lauderdale are an extremely good offensive side. If we make it s shootout, Lauderdale will be able to beat us every time. We need to be able to slow the game down and we had down that against Lauderdale earlier in the year but couldn’t do it today,” Webberley said.
After a sluggish start to 2018, the Bombers now sit in fourth position, just one game behind third-placed Glenorchy and two games adrift of the ‘Roos after this win over the ‘Roos, and in a scary proposition for the rest of the competition, will be bolstered by season’s end.
Injured skipper Bryce Walsh is expected to be a few weeks away, while Mariners and Allies representatives Mitch Anderton, Matt McGuinness and Nicholas Baker will also add plenty of excitement to an already in-form team that is now preparing for a clash with Glenorchy at Lauderdale Oval next weekend.
“We are starting to get some cohesion now and have guys getting games under their belts and playing well together. We will get some Mariner guys back in the next week which will cause some headaches at selection.
“We played well against Glenorchy last time so hopefully we can get another win over them,” Brown said.
Clarence will have the bye in round 16 before hosting North Hobart at Blundstone Arena.
Clarence 3.1, 4.6, 8.6, 10.9 (69)
Lauderdale 5.3, 7.4, 12.6, 18.8 (116)
Clarence : T. Standen 3, T. Hope 2, T. Cunliffe, J. Harper, T. Castle, C. Nield, R. Bailey
Lauderdale : E. Stanley 3, T. Mosquito 3, T. Boscott 3, J. Gillbee 2, A. Hill 2, H. Kerinaiua, H. Smith, A. Hevey, N. Franklin, T. Havea
Clarence : J. Holmes, T. Williamson, F. Seymour, T. Cunliffe, T. Standen, J. Cox
Lauderdale : T. Mosquito, J. McGuinness, H. Smith, O. Shaw, T. Boscott, R. Sutton