The 2018 season was one with momentum swings and troughs for the Lauderdale Football Club, but one that saw the Bombers again reach the final game of the season.
Much like the 2017 season, Lauderdale endured a rocky start to the Bupa TSL season, dropping their first three games, however this year was even tougher with coach Darren Winter forced to spend the opening portion of the year out of the coaching saddle on game day.
The absence of Winter came on top of the departures of 2017 stars Dylan Fyfe and Max Kleverkamp, as well as long-term injuries to Thor Boscott and Ethan Whish-Wilson among others – with skipper Bryce Walsh also going down with a long-term injury in round one.
With these absences came some fresh faces, however, with Northern Territory recruits Tim Mosquito and Henry Kerinaiua immediately settling into life as Bombers.
The continued development of familiar faces Haydn Smith and Nat Franklin also beared fruit, and although the Bombers struggled to get into top gear early, six wins from seven games in the middle section of the season helped Lauderdale prepare for a tilt at the pointy end of the season once again.
The addition of Jacob Gillbee and return of Thor Boscott, in conjunction with Tim Mosquito, Henry Kerinaiua, Ben McGuinness and Ed Stanley saw the Bombers boast one of the competition’s most dynamic attacking groups, with wins over Clarence in round 15 and Glenorchy in round 16 underlining exactly what the southern Bombers are capable of.
With Haydn Smith becoming of the best rucks in the competition, Phil Bellchambers and Nat Franklin performing consistently out of the middle and Josh McGuinness leading an impressive back six, Lauderdale managed to work through early season injury concerns and later injuries to Ben McGuinness and Ryan Wiggins, en route to a remarkable finals run that saw the Bombers clash with their northern counterparts on the most important day of the TSL season for a second straight season.
5th (W: 10, L: 8, %: 102.01) – defeated by North Launceston in Grand Final
Jacob Gillbee – 26 goals
Team of the Year Representatives: 3
- Josh McGuinness (HBF + Vice Captain)
- Consistency is the pillar of McGuinness’ game, with his professionalism clear to see on game day. A cool head in defence, McGuinness found himself playing a variety of roles throughout the season and proved to be a match-winner, whether it was his defensive actions or offence off half back.
- Phil Bellchambers (C)
- Emerged as the general of this Lauderdale midfield, thriving as a leader in the middle. More midfield time has seen Bellchambers take his game to another level as he continues to display his explosiveness, strength and power.
- Nat Franklin (RR)
- Backed up a terrific campaign with another consistent season. Stepped up in the absence of injured skipper Bryce Walsh and did so with aplomb, winning the hard ball and feeding it out to prime movers or breaking the lines from stoppages himself. A metronome in the middle.
Best and Fairest:
Phil Bellchambers took home the Best and Fairest award for 2018, due recognition for another consistent campaign from the midfielder. Star defender Josh McGuinness just finished behind Bellchambers to claim runners-up honours.
Lauderdale enjoyed an even spread of contributors in 2018, and this was reflected at the Tasmanian Footy Awards, with Haydn Smith and Rhys Sutton (10 votes each) topping the Bombers’ tally en route to the competition’s top 10. Phil Bellchambers was narrowly behind with nine votes, as was Nat Franklin with eight. However, Josh McGuinness – the Team of the Year vice captain – failed to poll a single vote in one of the surprises of the season.
RACT Insurance Player of the Year:
Phil Bellchambers (nine votes), Josh McGuinness (eight) and Haydn Smith (eight) caught the most attention from the media, all finishing inside the top 10 for votes.
The Rising Star:
Oscar Shaw emerges as a clear choice here, with his rising stocks highlighted by the fact that he manned North Launceston star Tom Bennett in the Grand Final. A nuggetty defender who can play small or tall, the 17-year-old is a fearless competitor who often shows no caution for his own safety, with his willingness to run back with the flight an early trademark of his game.
Tyler Martin is another player to keep an eye on moving forward, as although he missed the back half of the season, he displayed potency inside 50 earlier in the season to become another avenue to goal.
The southern Bombers’ finals campaign has got to be the side’s 2018 highlight, with Darren Winter’s men becoming the first side to make the Grand Final after finishing outside the top four.
The Bombers opened their finals campaign with a 58-point win over Eastern Shore rivals Clarence in the Elimination Final, with a Jacob Gillbee bag of five and Josh McGuinness’ sensational role on Jake Cox, proving influential in securing an emphatic victory, that at one point looked likely to get to beyond 80 points.
Lauderdale backed this effort up in style against Launceston at UTAS Stadium, overcoming an early arm wrestle to record a sensational 72-point win and knock the Blues out of the 2018 finals series.
Ed Stanley bobbed up to be the hero on this occasion with seven goals, while Henry Kerinaiua’s bag of four and another stellar effort from Josh McGuinness saw the Bombers march into a second straight Preliminary Final.
And from there, the Bombers also booked a second straight Grand Final appearance, storming home from a five goal deficit with a scintillating nine goal to four second half (and five goal to one final quarter).
Thor Boscott was the fire-starter for the Bombers, kicking four in a strong performance, while Robbie McManus and Henry Kerinaiua continued their strong finals campaigns to make history and book the coastal club’s second ever Grand Final ticket.
While Lauderdale’s successful run throughout the finals series was a clear highlight for the side, a second straight Grand Final loss would have to be the low-light – despite the side putting in a far more competitive performance this time around.
Lauderdale, obliterated in the 2017 decider, forced the Northern Bombers into an arm wrestle 12 months on, and although Lauderdale restricted the reigning premier to seven goals, they only kicked four in response, with North Launceston clinching the flag with a 30-point triumph.
It was a far more competitive performance from Darren Winter’s side this time around, but the hurt of a lost Grand Final makes this the clear lowlight of the season for the club.
2018 In Three Words: Resilient Bombers Impress