Twelve months on from the first all-Bomber Tasmanian State League Grand Final, we have another battle between the two clubs in red and black.
North Launceston v Lauderdale – UTAS Stadium (Saturday 15th September 5:00pm)
Head to Head in 2018: North Launceston – 3 | Lauderdale – 0
Round 7 – North Launceston 19.19 (133) def. Lauderdale 5.9 (39) at UTAS Stadium
Round 14 – North Launceston 12.16 (88) def. Lauderdale 9.8 (62) at UTAS Stadium
Round 21 – Lauderdale 11.13 (79) def. by North Launceston 17.12 (114) at Lauderdale Oval
Although the markings of last season’s Grand Final result are still there, this season’s decider promises to be a vastly different affair, with both teams possessing new names and exciting form.
North Launceston, having lost just two matches since, enter the match as rightful favourites, and in its fifth straight Grand Final, know what it takes to claim Tasmanian football’s ultimate prize.
From Bart McCulloch and Tom Bennett inside 50 to Tarryn Thomas, Taylor Whitford and Josh Ponting, this is a side full of bona fide superstars capable of tearing a game apart, and with the runs on the board to suggest that they can do it again on the big stage.
Far and away the slickest side in the competition, North Launceston’s ball movement in the Semi Final a fortnight ago was at times jaw-dropping, and will no doubt be a key area of focus for Lauderdale entering this match.
Lauderdale, on the other hand, is set to embark on the club’s second Grand Final appearance, and while last season’s decider was new territory for the coastal club on Hobart’s Eastern Shore, this season’s biggest day may be a different beast.
Lauderdale’s side has a completely different look in 2018, with the likes of Tim Mosquito, Henry Kerinaiua and Jacob Gillbee giving this side added potency inside forward 50. Add to this the development of Nic Baker as a key midfield cog and the strong form of stalwarts Thor Boscott, Josh McGuinness, Nat Franklin and Phil Bellchambers, and you have a side with the ability to win on any given day.
Injury clouds hover over key utilities Ben McGuinness and Ryan Wiggins heading into the decider, but if these two can play, Lauderdale will become an even greater force.
Lauderdale, at its best, is one of the most exciting teams to watch in the TSL, and after taking some key lessons out of last season’s big Grand Final loss, will be hardened and battle-ready for the biggest match of the year.
A loss to North Launceston in the final round of the season will give Lauderdale some confidence, having jumped the reigning premiers in the second and third terms to almost pull off a big upset.
If everything clicks, the southern Bombers can give North Launceston a scare, just as they did in the final round of the season, but Taylor Whitford’s side is deserving of the favourites tag and will be as tough to beat as ever at home.
Brad Cox-Goodyer (North Launceston): The North Launceston skipper has had an injury-interrupted 2018 campaign, but it hasn’t stopped the 2017 Alastair Lynch and Darrel Baldock Medallist from having another dominant season. Kicked 36 goals and named captain of the Team of the Year.
Thor Boscott (Lauderdale): Lauderdale has looked a far more dangerous side since the return of X-Factor Boscott in round 15. Boscott has been dynamic as a midfield/forward rotation and after kicking four in the Preliminary Final, looks to be entering the Grand Final in sparkling touch. A competitor with no fear, Boscott is built for finals football.
The young guns:
Tarryn Thomas (North Launceston): The exciting draft prospect has returned to North Launceston with a bang in recent times, becoming a key contributor across the ground. Capable of playing in defence, as a forward or through the midfield, Thomas will be looking for a big contest in what could be his final game for the club before getting drafted.
Nic Baker (Lauderdale): The former Hobart City Demon has continued his strong development this season, playing a key role for the Tassie Mariners and the Allies. A versatile player, Baker has become a key figure in Lauderdale’s engine room.
Alex Lee v Haydn Smith
Two ruckmen who could consider themselves unlucky to have been overlooked for Team of the Year selection, Lee and Smith have been strong performer across the duration of the year. Both strong bodies with rich midfield talent at their feet, this contest will be crucial, particularly around the ground.
Mark Walsh v Bryce Walsh
The two midfield bulls will be primed for Grand Final day, with Mark Walsh looking to cap off another consistent season, and Bryce Walsh aiming to finish off a remarkable comeback from injury as a premiership captain. Two of the competition’s most combative warriors, the prospect of the Walsh’s going head to head is a fascinating one.
Jordan Cousens v Rhys Sutton
Cousens and Sutton have emerged as two of the competition’s most damaging wingmen in 2018, despite not getting the plaudits they perhaps deserve. Both players are blessed with great speed and agility, with work rates to match. The player that finds more of the football on the wide expanses could be a key figure in the result.
Tom Bennett v Josh McGuinness
Two A-Grade stars of the competition will have key roles to play this weekend, with Bennett’s vice-like marking and smart goal sense set to play as big a role for his side as Josh McGuinness’ ability to intercept and drive the ball out of the back half. If Bennett kicks a bag, the Northern Bombers will win, but McGuinness can bring his own football to UTAS Stadium, it might be a very different result.
Tip: North Launceston’s stars to shine again on the big stage. Lauderdale to be competitive but the Northern Bombers to win by 24 points.
HOW TO FOLLOW
Commentary also available via ABC Hobart and City Park Radio
Photos and vision on the official TSL Instagram account