The 2018 season was a challenging one for Clarence, with the ‘Roos blooding a plethora of inexperienced and emerging talents while remaining at the pointy end of the ladder for much of the season.
The ‘Roos had a new look in 2018, with a host of mature recruits and emerging youngsters ensuring the club backed up last season’s impressive second-place home and away campaign with another strong year.
Clarence emerged as one of the teams to beat across the front half of the season, spending a large chunk of the year in second place behind North Launceston.
This was, in part, due to the quality performances from an influx of off-season recruits, with Ryan Bailey, Troy Cunliffe, Fletcher Seymour and Taylor Williamson swiftly emerging as some of the team’s most important figures.
With Jeromey Webberley getting consistency and good football out of his body and the team’s stars in Jake Cox and Brady Jones firing, the ‘Roos looked set to be a challenger heading into the back half of the season in second spot after 12 rounds.
Injuries began to mount, however, with the likes of Trent Standen, Jackson O’Brien, Gabby Chambers, Ryan Edmondson, Matt Ling, Keegan Wylie and Wade Wall all suffering injuries throughout the season.
This experience was sorely missed, but it did also allow the ‘Roos to blood new talent, with the club handing an astonishing 15 new faces their Clarence senior debut including Fraser Turner, Oscar Paprotny, Conner Berry, Sam Green and Tom Birchall.
While Turner looks likely to go on to the next level in 2019, the likes of Paprotny, Green, Berry and Birchall gained vital senior TSL experience this season that will hold them, and the club, in good stead moving forward.
With plenty of inexperienced figures and new faces, Clarence did well to remain so competitive throughout the season, with an eventual fourth place finish fitting.
The ‘Roos will be hurting after going down to Lauderdale in a one-sided Elimination Final, but will remain optimistic heading into the summer with an abundance of exciting young players and some stars around them.
4th (W: 11, L: 7, %: 110.85) – knocked out by Lauderdale in Elimination Final
Chris Nield – 28
Team of the Year Representatives: 4
- James Holmes (BP)
- Another consistent campaign from the 2017 Richardson Medalist. Holmes’ ability to play across the last line of defence and throw himself at every contest was something to behold.
- Jake Cox (W)
- One of the competition’s most dynamic players had another stellar season, kicking 25 goals as a rotating player on the wing, in the midfield and as a forward. Capable of taking a game away from an opposition off his own boot.
- Ryan Bailey (FOLL)
- One of the surprise packets of the season, Bailey made the move to join brother Jason and immediately settled in, taking on the key ruck role to make it his own. A strong competitor around the ground with the ability to hit the scoreboard as well as control the hit outs.
- Jeromey Webberley (HEAD COACH)
- Webberley took an inexperienced and injury-hit group to a finals campaign, with the side spending much of the season in the top two. It’s hard to imagine Webberley getting much more out of his squad in 2018.
Best and Fairest:
Yet to be held.
The ineligible Jake Cox was the leader in the Lynch Medal count for the ‘Roos, polling 14 votes in an impressive season. Cox’s efforts earned him the second most votes in the competition, equal with Brad Cox-Goodyer and behind only Josh Ponting (22).
Recruited pair Troy Cunliffe (11 votes) and Ryan Bailey (10 votes) were not far behind, with both enjoying successful seasons in the red and white.
RACT Insurance Player of the Year:
Clarence featured at the pointy end of the RACT Insurance Player of the Year leaderboard for much of the season, with Ryan Bailey a leading contender in the first half of the year.
Bailey, who polled three votes across a four-round period, finished the year with 10 votes, alongside ‘Roo teammates Brady Jones and Jake Cox.
Like the Lynch Medal race, Troy Cunliffe was also thereabouts, finishing with eight votes.
The Rising Star:
Injuries forced the ‘Roos to blood plenty of new faces in 2018, with the likes of James Brenner, Harry Richmond, Oscar Paprotny, Tom Birchall and Sam Green all playing good senior football.
Birchall and Paprotny were partiuclarly impressive across the back half of the season, while Richmond impressed when in the senior side as a marking forward.
OHA recruit Fletcher Seymour – a former Australian U19 cricketer – also impressed throughout the season, with the 20-year-old becoming a vital cog in this Clarence midfield after starting the season in the Mercury Cup.
Only two sides toppled premier North Launceston in 2018, and Clarence emerged as one of them – recording the most thrilling of two-point victories at Blundstone Arena in round 12.
The ‘Roos controlled much of the opening half to take a five-point lead into the main break but faced an almighty challenge in the third term, conceding 6.1 to 1.1 in the third quarter to trail by 25 points heading into the final stanza.
The ‘Roos were brilliant in the final term, however, kicking five goals to none – the last of which, via ruckman Ryan Bailey, came in dramatic circumstances.
Bailey had three late chances to put the ‘Roos back in front in the dying moments, with his first – a checkside attempt from five metres out hitting the post.
Moments later Bailey dropped an uncontested mark inside 50 to squander another opportunity before redeeming himself as the beneficiary of a free kick just seconds later to convert his set shot and seal an important victory that put Clarence within striking distance of top spot.
Several contenders here, with Clarence’s stunning run of form (including wins over Launceston, North Launceston) coming to a grinding halt in round 13, where the ‘Roos suffered a 53-point hammering at the hands of Glenorchy at KGV. The Magpies kicked 10 goals to three in the opening half – where all three Clarence goals came within a five-minute period late in the second term.
The clear lowlight for the ‘Roos, however, was an Elimination Final loss to Eastern Shore rival Lauderdale at Blundstone Arena.
In a hotly anticipated fixture, the ‘Roos were flat, struggling to get going against a slick Bomber outfit.
Injuries severely hurt the ‘Roos in this encounter, with Ryan Bailey the biggest blow, and Lauderdale made the hosts pay, kicking 14 goals to three across the opening three terms to set up a 58-point win and draw curtains on Clarence’s 2017 season.
2018 In Three Words: Depleted but competitive