Written by Mitch Stagg.
North Launceston has been able to see off a potential challenger once again, with a hard-fought 19-point win over Clarence at the University of Tasmania Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Bombers eventually triumphed 13.11 (89) to 11.3 (70) in a fiery and sometimes spiteful top of the table blockbuster that lived up to the billing.
With both sides currently locked as the top two teams in the competition, the standard of football was impressive, with the Northern Bombers’ capacity to absorb the challenges thrown by the determined ‘Roos another clear message to the competition that the reigning premiers are the side to beat.
Both sides attacked the contest and the game with plenty of physicality, but it was this North Launceston outfit that emerged victorious, largely thanks to the work of tall forwards Tom Bennett and Bart McCulloch, who combined for seven goals between them.
Clarence started the game with vigor, with majors to Chris Nield and Alex Silver cancelling out Norths sole opening term goal to Tom Bennett. The quarter was not one for the highlight reels, as a dour struggle ensued, with the Bombers unable to capitalize on their midfield dominance, heading into the first change trailing the Roos by two points.
Clarence started the second term in similar fashion to the opening quarter, with early goals to Standen and Dickenson. However, the Bombers would respond with five of the next six goals, as tempers flared nearing the half time break. North would take a 10 point lead into half time, as the tensions spilled over, leading to a melee on the siren.
The confrontation seemed to spark North into action, as they piled on the first three goals of the second half courtesy of Bennett, McCulloch and Sherrin Egger to balloon the margin out to 30 points.
However the Roos would not be deterred, responding to kick four goals in time on to draw within five points at the final change.
Sensing his side needed a lift, North Launceston playing-coach Taylor Whitford lifted his standing and won a free kick and converted a crucial goal to start the final term, as North rallied to hold off a spirited Clarence outfit. The Bombers would kick four goals to two to come away with a 19-point victory.
Josh Ponting worked tirelessly in the engine room all day, benefiting from some silver service from Alex Lee, while Zach Burt covered the absence of the injured Jay Foon down back with a dominant display.
For the beaten visitors, Nield, Dickenson and Gabriel Chambers all registered two majors, while Keegan Wylie put in a dazzling display down back and Coach Jeromey Webberley controlled the midfield.
Webberley paid credit to the Bombers post match, but was proud of his side’s efforts against the competitions benchmark.
“I thought for ninety per cent of the game that it was a 50/50 game. We had periods where we locked the ball in our half for long periods of time, but we just didn’t hit the scoreboard when we needed to.
“When we have a good structure and we maintain our discipline and play the way that we want to play, we’re a really good team.
“We know North Launceston is the best team in the competition and they play the way that they want to play and stay disciplined for close to 120 minutes.” Webberley said.
Exciting draft prospect Tarryn Thomas performed well in his return to North Launceston colours, despite being a key focus of the ‘Roos throughout the afternoon.
Speaking post match, Whitford was clearly unimpressed with the response from the umpires to the close attention his young prodigy received.
“We have got a duty of care and our game is not about that; We’re about building up the talent that we have and putting a show on, so it was a little bit disappointing how that went down.” Whitford said.
Both sides now look forward to contrasting encounters, with North Launceston taking on cellar dwellers North Hobart away and Clarence traveling north again to face Launceston at Windsor Park.
The Bombers will again be without Bradley Cox-Goodyer, who was a late withdrawal from the clash against the Roos, while Clarence will be sweating on the fitness of Jackson O’Brien.
North Launceston 1.5, 6.5, 9.9, 13.11 (89)
Clarence 2.0, 5.1, 9.4, 11.4 (70)
North Launceston : T. Bennett 5, B. McCulloch 3, T. Whitford 2, S. Egger 1, T. Thomas 1, B. Sharman 1
Clarence : A. Dickenson 2, C. Nield 2, G. Chambers 2, T. Standen 1, A. Silver 1, R. Bailey 1, J. Bailey 1, J. Cox 1
North Launceston : T. Bennett, Z. Burt, J. Cousens, A. Richter-Salter, A. Lee, C. Harrison
Clarence : K. Wylie, J. Holmes, J. Webberley, R. Edmondson, F. Turner, G. Chambers