Trent Baumeler’s first season at the helm of the Tigers proved to be a bit of a mixed bag with competitive performances marred by injuries to key players and an unflattering win-loss record.
The Tigers entered the new season with a new coach and a host of new faces, with the likes of Ryan Matthews, Will Campbell and Blake Grant headlining a raft of additions at the Twin Ovals.
These additions bolstered the Tigers’ stocks significantly, but the season as a whole proved to tell a similar tale, with the Tigers winning one less game than 2017.
Injuries proved catastrophic throughout the season, with stars Marcus Davies and Ryan Matthews only playing four games together for the entire season.
Add to this significant injuries to midfield gun Lachy Clifford and key defender Jake Doran in the back half of the season and the Tigers often struggled to put their upper echelon of players on the park at the same time.
With injury often comes opportunity, however, with Blake Grant’s shift into a more permanent midfield role a clear example of how the Tigers will take positives out of the campaign.
The Tigers’ 3-15 win-loss record, although unflattering, perhaps doesn’t do justice to the side’s competitiveness for much of the season, with the Tigers narrowly falling short after being in competitive positions several times throughout the season.
The Tigers were hugely competitive against Grand Finalists Lauderdale in all three meetings this season, headlined by a tight opening three quarters in round four and a stunning final term comeback in round 18, where the Luke Graham-inspired Tigers kicked six goals to none in the final term before falling short by the smallest of margins.
The Tigers also took it up to the eventual premier North Launceston, kicking five consecutive goals in the final quarter at UTAS Stadium back in round nine to get to within nine points with 10 minutes remaining.
These passages, as well as competitive losses to Clarence and Glenorchy, highlighted that the team’s best football can trouble the competition’s best, however, these moments were often just that – moments.
The development of Hugh Johnston into a consistent ruckman has been immense, with performances throughout the season showing his significant upside.
Luke Graham and Edward Burrows-Cheng shouldered much of the load inside 50 throughout the season, and with Mitch Carter set to depart back to Western Australia, reinforcements inside forward 50 will likely be the Tigers’ number one priority this summer.
6th (W: 3, L: 15, %: 68.77)
Luke Graham – 29
Team of the Year Representatives: 2
- Luke Graham (FP)
- Kicked the most goals of any small forward in the competition. Developed into a genuine star.
- Mitch Carter (INT)
- Played predominantly as a forward this season and led from the front. An elite kick and smart footballer who will be sorely missed when he departs back to Western Australia.
- Luke Graham (FP)
Best and Fairest:
Mitch Carter took out his second Ray Lorkin Medal as the Tigers best and fairest player, with Will Campbell and Blake Grant also finishing on the podium in second and third respectively.
Midfield star Will Campbell was the leading Tiger according to the whistle-blowers, polling 7 votes. Marcus Davies‘ strong finish to the season also saw him earn 4 votes for the year.
RACT Insurance Player of the Year:
Experienced duo Mitch Carter and Marcus Davies both topped the tally for the Tigers according to the media, finishing with six votes each.
Goalsneak Luke Graham also impressed – particularly in the second half of the season – to finish with five votes.
The Rising Star:
Some exciting talent stepped up in the yellow black in 2018, with the promise shown by talented forward Cooper Sawdy and the likes of Bailey Gordon and Nic Hutchinson more than enough to excite Tiger fans. Sawdy, who only played five games this season due to injury, looms as an exciting forward target.
Having won just the one match in the opening 12 rounds of the season, few could have predicted the Tigers toppling the fancied Blues in round 13, particularly after the Blues handed the Tigers a 91-point loss in round six.
The Tigers kicked four goals to one in the opening term to get the early jump in a low-scoring tussle at the Twin Ovals, and after then taking a one-point lead into the main break, kicked three goals to two in the third term and two goals to none in the last to record a stirring victory.
Luke Graham, Mitch Carter and Mitchell Cooke all finished with two goals each in the win, while Will Campbell’s efforts in the midfield also proved crucial.
The key figure in the result, however, was Micah Reynolds, who in his first senior TSL match for the season, kept eventual Hudson Medalist Mitch Thorp to just one goal with an inspired defensive performance.
This was made all the more impressive by the fact that Thorp kicked eight when the sides previously met back in round six.
The Tigers proved to be the only side to have gone down to North Hobart in 2018, suffering an eight-point loss at the Twin Ovals in round eight.
It was a tough pill to swallow for the fancied Tigers, with a host of former Demons lining up in the yellow and black.
North Hobart, inspired by the return of Melbourne veteran Colin Garland, held the lead for the entirety of the match and managed to hold on in the final term to inflict the Tigers’ most shattering loss for the season.
2018 In Three Words: Not Quite There