North Launceston have stormed into their fifth straight TSL Grand Final, shaking off the late withdrawal of sore star Tom Couch to produce a blistering first quarter in Saturday’s Semi Final against a hapless Glenorchy outfit at UTAS Stadium.
A lightning pass from midfielder Brad Cox-Goodyer set up Tom Bennett for the first goal of the game within seconds of the opening bounce set the scene, as the hosts went on to boot eight unanswered majors to all but seal the result at quarter time, going on to on to record a comfortable 14.10 (94) to 5.7 (37) victory.
Key forward Bennett was unstoppable early, booting four of his six majors in the opening stanza as the North Launceston on-ball brigade ran riot to see the Bombers take an emphatic 8.2 (50) to 0.0 (2) lead at the first change.
The Magpies rallied in the second term to hit the scoreboard and somewhat curtail their Northern counterparts’ dominance, but it was all too late as the Premiership favourites coasted to a 57 point win, setting up the chance to claim their fourth flag in five years.
North Launceston playing coach Taylor Whitford paid tribute to the dedicated efforts of his players throughout the season to date, dispelling any ideas that a spot in the Grand Final had come easily.
“It’s a just reward for the group and the hard work they’ve put in over the past 11 months,” he said.
“It’s been hard yakka, it always is.”
“It’s a good reward, but we’ve got to focus on training well over the next couple of weeks.”
Whitford put the Bombers’ dream start to the match down to the dominance of midfield trio Cox-Goodyer, Josh Ponting and Mark Walsh, who, combined to repeatedly win crucial clearances and used the ball superbly.
Rebounding defenders Jordan Cousens and Jack Avent also worked hard as the game wore on, repeatedly stifling forward entries and running the ball out of danger with confidence.
But the main praise was saved for Bennett, who showcased why he is regarded as one of the most impressive key forwards in the state.
“When Tommy Bennett is marking everything, you just get it in there.”
“He was fantastic, kicked pretty straight as well, so that helps.”
Whitford also singled out the contribution of draft prospect Tarryn Thomas, who along with fellow teenager Sherrin Egger, provided some wow moments for the crowd, answering some recently-published questionable criticism in the process.
“I think Tarryn has been down, to his standards, but to his credit, the boys really got around him this week”.
“I thought he was fantastic, he’s definitely back, and when he’s up and about he’s probably the hardest player to stop in the comp – he does some special things.”
With the Bombers now having earned a week off before they host a second consecutive Grand Final, Whitford is mindful of the importance of routine ahead of his side’s meeting with either Glenorchy or Lauderdale in a fortnight’s time.
The message is clear. The job isn’t done yet.
“Our training standards have been really good, which probably allowed us to play the kind of footy we did in the first half today.”
“We’ve got to keep that going, and I think that the maturity in the group will allow us to do that.”
“We’re realists, and we’ve got to understand that the hard work doesn’t end here.”
North Launceston 8.2, 12.6, 13.9, 14.11 (95)
Glenorchy 0.2, 3.4, 4.6, 5.7 (37)
North Launceston: T. Bennett 6, B. McCulloch 2, S. Egger, T. Thomas, B. Cox-Goodyer, J. Ponting, M. Walsh, T. Whitford
Glenorchy: R. Mott 2, B. Kamaric, J. Geard, J. Arnold
North Launceston: J. Cousens, J. Avent, T. Bennett, A. Lee, J. Ponting, T. Thomas
Glenorchy: R. Mott, B. Rowbottom, Z. Webster, C. Salter, J. Geard, C. Duffy.