Are The Blues A Finals Threat In 2018?

After an up and down Bupa Tasmanian State League season so far, TSL Digital Reporter Mitchell Jones takes a look at how Launceston are tracking leading into the business end of the 2018 season.

After falling from a 6-2 win-loss record after round nine to 6-7 after round 15, the Blues looked to be in free fall after not recording a win for well over a month, but last Sunday’s win over the Demons at Windsor Park snapped this five-game losing streak and indicated that Sam Lonergan’s side may have turned the corner.

After a spirited one-point loss to ladder leaders North Launceston in round 15, round 16 saw Launceston back up that performance with a 18.17 (125) to 4.4 (28) 97-point win over last placed North Hobart.

This win comes at a vital time for the Blues with all five teams in finals contention jostling for final ladder positions, with a big win against a developing side potentially the confidence-boosting result needed to reinvigorate the Blues and help them to regain form ahead of the finals.

The win win had several key players stand up with experienced senior players in Mitch Thorp (5 goals) and Rulla Kelly-Mansell in a new defensive wing/half back role both having dominant displays; while young guns Brodie Palfreyman and potential AFL draft prospect Chayce Jones provided ample support.

Rulla Kelly-Mansell looks at home across half back. IC: Solstice Digital

North Hobart were well served by their ever-eager young players with Thomas Reeves and Baxter Norton being the pick of the bunch, while Hugh M Williams played manfully in defense taking countless intercept marks as the Launceston midfield kicked to the advantage of the Blues’ forwards all day.

Launceston will look to move back into a higher position on the ladder with the chance of receiving a double chance or even a home final, but will come face to face with an in-form Lauderdale side that sits one win above them this Saturday at Windsor Park.

Lauderdale will be buoyed by the performance of Ben McGuinness after he slotted seven goals last week and will look to take a vital away win and place a two-game buffer between themselves and fifth-placed Launceston.

Launceston have been rolling through the competition in the development league and have several players on the verge of senior selection; and with the added addition of many underage representative players and the likely return of coach Sam Lonergan, the Blues look to still be a threat in the lead up to finals.

Sam Lonergan will be a big boost if he returns to the senior side. IC: Solstice Digital

Ever Reliable senior players in Mitch Thorp, Chris Savage, Dylan Riley, Brodie Palfreyman and Sam Rundle will look to be key elements in steering Launceston towards a successful finals run, while the enthusiasm and talent of Chayce Jones, Ethan Jackson, Tom Mundy, Jameson House and Tim Auckland are ever improving in their youth.

Are Launceston still a Premiership threat in 2018 despite currently sitting in fifth position?

Only time will tell but every indication suggests that this is a side to keep a close eye on in the business end of the season.