It was another A-Grade effort that didn’t translate into four points for North Hobart, but Coach Richard Robinson described Saturday as a turning point for the rebuilding club, writes Josh Duggan.
Clarence eventually pulled away in the fourth quarter as the young Dees tired, but for nearly the entirety of the first three quarters, the boys in red and blue gave one of the competition’s elite sides a run for their money.
While inaccurate kicking from the Roos played a part in keeping the score close, the pressure around the contest and defensive structure from an extraordinarily young North Hobart side was also a huge factor.
Robinson was keen to compliment his side after the match, happy with the way that team selection had paid off, despite any potential doubters.
“It’s been well documented that we had a lot of young guys come in this week, and there were people in the public questioning why we’re playing so many young guys, but we believe our younger players have a lot of ability, and that was on show for three quarters this week.”
The Demons boasted some of the competition’s most exciting prospects, with Mitch O’Neill, Will Peppin and Baxter Norton among others with state representative credentials.
Another of the standout performers from this crop of youngsters was Jake Steele, who also received plaudits from Robinson.
“I would argue Jake was close to best-on-ground today… he’s only a young guy, so he’s still learning his craft, but I said to him after the game ‘you’ve just shown me how good a player you’re going to be.'”
Steele, who gained experience with the Tassie Mariners and state under-16s earlier this year, was influential across the ground; his excellent ruckwork was complimented by excellent ball use entering forward 50, and he produced one of the day’s highlights with a high-flying mark in the second quarter.
It was an important day off the field too for the Demons, with Colin Garland committing to a Playing Assistant Coach role at the club in 2019.
Garland brings a wealth of knowledge from his days in the AFL, and his presence is no doubt accelerating the growth of the promising core of players that the club has been fielding.
North Hobart will face the Magpies at KGV Oval in round 18 before finishing the season with home games against North Launceston and Lauderdale prior to the round 21 bye.
The second-placed ‘Roos, who were well-serviced by the likes of Brady Jones and Jake Cox in the win, will take on ladder leaders North Launceston at UTAS Stadium in round 18.
Clarence 0.6, 2.13, 9.19, 13.22 (100)
North Hobart 1.2, 4.3, 8.4, 10.7 (67)
Clarence : C. Nield 2, T. Williamson 2, A. Silver 2, J. Cox 2, T. Cunliffe, J. Harper, G. Chambers, T. Standen, A. Dickenson
North Hobart : C. Kilpatrick 2, S. Willis 2, P. Walker, W. Peppin, B. Norton, H. Williams, J. Barwick, M. O’Neill
Clarence : J. Brenner, F. Turner, B. Jones, R. Edmondson, M. Ling, T. Castle
North Hobart : J. Steele, B. Norton, M. O’Neill, J. Cleaver, C. Kilpatrick, B. Tilbury