North Launceston has underlined its status as the competition’s top dog with an impressive 37-point win over Glenorchy at KGV Oval.
The Northern Bombers continued building towards a tilt at back to back premierships with a 13.14 (92) to 8.7 (55) win over the Magpies to tighten the club’s grip on top spot, and after being challenged throughout the day, the Bombers underlined their status as the team to beat in 2018.
The Bombers were up against it early, with the Magpies’ tough and contested brand of football on display, even when kicking against the breeze.
The ‘Pies were equally adept on the outside and inside early in the game, moving the ball well and creating chances inside forward 50, where the ever-dangerous Jaye Bowden and Harry Parker threatened to cause headaches.
Glenorchy lookedthe better side for much of the opening term, despite late goals from Brad Cox-Goodyer and Tom Bennett handing the visitors a six-point lead at the first break.
Matthew Joseph, Harry Parker and John Geard kicked the first three goals of the second term to steal the lead back for the Magpies, but the game quickly turned back in favour of the visitors, with Mark Walsh, Josh Ponting and Brad Cox-Goodyer getting on top in the middle of the ground.
“It was boggy inside so we had to grind it out,” North Launceston playing-coach Taylor Whitford said post game.
“We knew they were going to come and have periods of momentum, but we had to grind it out and I think our midfield, led by Brad, Josh and Mark got on top halfway through the second and didn’t look back.”
With a 20-point lead at the main break, the Bombers looked likely to run away with the contest in the second half and did so with the opening two goals of the half.
Seemingly on the brink of being wiped out of the contest, Glenorchy rallied to get back to within 16 points against the wind to keep the door ajar for a comeback, but some ill-discipline proved costly, with 50-metre penalties against Mitch Rainbird and Matthew Joseph and some skill errors relieving pressure on the Bombers.
“The game could’ve got out of hand but we did a good job of pinching the momentum back. To get it back to within 16 points kicking into the wind… had we been able to consolidate that, we go into three-quarter time and give each other a really good shot,” Glenorchy coach Paul Kennedy said post-game.
“But everyone saw some ill-disciplined acts that really changed the momentum of the game. The game was determined by territory, as it often is, and they were better than us at locking it in their forward line.
“Part of that was our skills being off today, need to give some credit to North Launceston for their pressure, but also there was some basic stuff that wasn’t under great pressure that we got wrong that we would usually get right,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy was disappointed in these lapses, with these moments of ill-discipline deflating the Magpies late in the term, with a 16-point deficit blowing back out to 45 points at the final change.
“[It is about ] being smart and disciplined in those big moments. When you’re kicking into the wind and are back to within 16 points – it’s just not the time to give away 50m penalties. It’s the time to be really smart and keep the momentum on your side.
“A lot of the stuff today which resulted in it being a six-goal ball game are very fixable. We don’t walk out of the game thinking we are off the pace. We are not as good as North Launceston at the moment, purely because they play the way they want to play more consistently than we do.”
Tom Bennett (three goals) and Cox-Goodyer (six) proved to be decisive figures forward of centre, while Walsh and Ponting in the middle, Jordan Cousens on the wing and Zach Burt were also influential.
Whitford was pleased with how his side responded to challenges throughout the game, with this victory a good way to back up a dominant display against the Tigers the week prior.
“Today’s effort built off what we were doing last week. Glenorchy were at times dominant around the stoppage and in both of those terms we were able to fight and grind back into the contest.
“We have a tough stretch of games. We have Clarence next week at home and then away games against North Hobart and Lauderdale to finish the season off.
“This stretch will hold us in good stead so we can see where we are at compared to the rest of the competition. Two games in and we are going ok, but we have another three big games before we can reset ourselves for a big finish to the season.”
An injury to Jay Foon in the second term proved to be one of the only sour points from an otherwise memorable day for the Bombers, with skipper Brad Cox-Goodyer also spending the end of the game on the sidelines after booting six goals, including three in the second term.
“Jay has gone to have some x-rays on his neck and back region. He was ok and conscious and able to move.
“We are a tight group and a tight club. Whenever a soldier of ours goes down we come together and we wanted to put in a good performance.
“Brad had a bit of a tight hamstring, I think it is coming from the back region and he did spend three quarters of the last quarter on the bench. We weren’t going to risk it and he will get scans before we see where he is at,” Whitford said.
While North Launceston clash with the ‘Roos at UTAS Stadium, Glenorchy will have face a dangerous North Hobart outfit at KGV in round 18.
Glenorchy 2.4, 5.4, 6.6, 8.7 (55)
North Launceston 3.4, 8.6, 12.13, 13.14 (92)
Glenorchy : H. Parker 2, J. Bowden 2, R. Banks-Smith, J. Geard, C. Daly, R. Mott
North Launceston : B. Cox-Goodyer 6, T. Bennett 3, M. Walsh 2, J. Ponting, T. Whitford
Glenorchy : D. Joseph, R. Mott, M. Rainbird, J. Webb, H. Parker, J. Bowden
North Launceston : M. Walsh, J. Ponting, B. Cox-Goodyer, T. Bennett, Z. Burt, J. Cousens