Northern Bombers Confirm Dynasty In Absorbing Grand Final

North Launceston has clinched its fourth Bupa Tasmanian State League premiership in five seasons – and second in as many years – to rubber-stamp its status as the competition’s greatest side in recent history. 

After easily accounting for the Bombers of Lauderdale by 98-points in the 2017 decider, North Launceston faced a far more significant challenge 12 months on, absorbing everything thrown by the Southern Bombers to record an impressive 7.21 (63) to 4.9 (33) win at UTAS Stadium.

In an low-scoring but enthralling Grand Final, both Bomber outfits attacked the contest with ferocity, with the heat and competitiveness of the opening three terms a stark contrast to much of the 2017 decider.

The Northern Bombers know what is required on the biggest day on the TSL calendar, and after absorbing immense pressure in the opening half, gained the upper hand in an arm-wrestle of a third stanza to record a 30-point triumph.

Lauderdale came out of the blocks firing, kicking the opening two goals of the day through Jacob Gillbee and Tim Mosquito, while also having the better of general play for the opening 20 minutes.

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Darren Winter’s side looked composed and calm, despite the occasion and the drama of last season, with several match-ups looking to work in the visitors’ favour early – including Oscar Shaw on star Bomber Tom Bennett and Josh McGuinness on 2017 premiership coach Tom Couch.

A long-range major from Brad Cox-Goodyer at the 21-minute mark got the ball rolling for the minor premiers, however, with a second goal from Tom Couch five minutes later handing North Launceston the lead in the dying embers of the opening term.

This Couch goal was a hammer-blow for Lauderdale, who despite dominating much of the opening term, went into the first break one-point adrift.

North Launceston drew first blood in the second term, after a Haydn Smith down field free-kick saw Bart McCulloch kick his only goal of the day.

However, unlike many sides over the past few seasons, Lauderdale found an immediate response, with Tim Mosquito’s second showing that this Lauderdale outfit was not going to roll over easily.

IC: Solstice Digital

Lauderdale struggled to hit the scoreboard from there on out, however, struggling to make the last kick inside 50 or to convert from opportunities.

Although the low-scoring nature of the contest kept Lauderdale in the hunt for much of the game, it also prevented Darren Winter’s side from breaking the lines and hitting the scoreboard as they so often did throughout the season.

With both teams squandering chances in the opening half, goals looked to be at a premium on an afternoon baked in sunshine, but still played as a wet-weather contest after serious rainfall earlier in the morning.

Tom Bennett flipped the script early in the third quarter, however, kicking a beauty from the pocket to help the Northern Bombers gather some momentum, with the likes of Josh Ponting and Brad Cox-Goodyer working off strong opening halves to start dominating around stoppages.

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North Launceston, kicking the only three goals of the third term, looked to have one hand on the premiership heading into the final term with a 16-point lead and having conceded just three goals for the game to that point.

This proved to be the case, with North Launceston dominating the final term with 2.9 to 1.0 underlining the eventual premiers’ dominance and taking some of the sting out of what was otherwise an absorbing and enthralling match that befitted the occasion.

Highly regarded first round draft prospect Tarryn Thomas, who set the scene in the opening term with several strong contested marks, ensured it was party time for the home fans in the final term, taking two huge pack marks and kicking a goal to put forward his own case for Baldock Medal honours.

This honour went to his skipper, Brad Cox-Goodyer, however, with the North Launceston bull claiming best afield honours for a second straight season.

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Cox-Goodyer was dominant from the get-go, finding plenty of the football and using it well to create drive out of the middle, stamping his name into Tasmanian football folklore after winning the 2017 medal after playing predominantly as a forward in an eight-goal effort.

“It was a cracking game. They brought all the heat and we had to change things up a little bit and control the ball going forward.

“You can never get sick of this.

“The feeling you have right now, it’s indescribable,” Cox-Goodyer said post game.

Although more focused on the team success, Cox-Goodyer conceded that back to back Baldock Medals was a special honour.

“I was happy to play my role.

“I’ve had an injury interrupted year so I set myself for this day. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do a lot of the individual stuff during the year so I set myself for today.

“I just wanted to play my role and help my team – that’s all that matters to me.”

IC: Solstice Digital

Taylor Whitford, in his first season as coach after captaining the side to the 2017 flag, also etched his name into Tasmanian football history, following in the footsteps of Zane Littlejohn and Tom Couch to become the third North Launceston premiership coach during this era of success.

Whitford was clearly emotional after the game and was full of praise for the resilience of his team – particularly with star defenders Jay Foon (injured) and Arion Richter-Salter (suspended) watching from the sidelines.

“It means the world. It means the absolute world. This is a different group. We came through adversity. We had our best two defenders out and the young kids stepped up.

“It was very different to last year. We didn’t play that well in the opening half and were probably lucky to go in to half time a point up.

“The wind was blustery and the game was in tough conditions, but the way we worked into it was fantastic.

“It’s for everyone at the club. It’s not about individuals – it never will be, it’s about the group,” Whitford said.

IC: Solstice Digital

 

North Launceston                 2.4,  3.8,  5.13,  7.21  (63)

Lauderdale                              2.3,  3.7,  3.9,  4.9  (33)

 

GOALS

North Launceston : T. Thomas 2, S. Egger, T. Couch, B. Cox-Goodyer, B. McCulloch, T. Bennett

Lauderdale : T. Mosquito 2, J. Gillbee 2

BEST

North Launceston : B. Cox-Goodyer, J. Ponting, T. Thomas, A. Lee, J. Avent, B. Sharman

Lauderdale : O. Shaw, N. Franklin, P. Bellchambers, N. Baker, H. Smith, R. McManus

 

Baldock Medal Voting:

13 Brad Cox-Goodyer (North Launceston)

9 Josh Ponting (North Launceston)

8 Tarryn Thomas (North Launceston)

3 Jack Avent (North Launceston)

1 Josh McGuinness (Lauderdale)