North Launceston remain on top of the Bupa TSL ladder after putting on a masterclass against a hapless Clarence outfit at Blundstone Arena on Saturday, writes Alex FitzGerald.
The ‘Roos managed to hold the Bombers to just two majors in the first 27 minutes of the contest, before the Northern juggernaut stamped their authority on the game, booting 18 majors to the hosts’ six thereafter to run out convincing 82-point victors.
Midfield duo Taylor Whitford and Brad Cox-Goodyer were in sensational form for the winners, with playing coach Whitford racking up disposals at will across all four quarters while the latter finished the afternoon with four majors next to his name, rocketing to the top of the competition goalkicking table in the process.
Dakota Bannister and Bart McCulloch also hit the scoreboard with four and five goals respectively, while Jack Rushton, Arion Richter-Salter and Josh Ponting also featured prominently in a memorable afternoon for the 2018 Premiers.
North Launceston assistant coach Adrian Smith spoke of the importance of the win post-match, particularly given the Bombers’ recent record at Blundstone Arena, and put his side’s dominance down to consistently winning the contested ball around the ground.
“It’s been a few years since we won down here (at Blundstone Arena) , so to get the result today was a good feeling for us.”
“Our ball movement is something we’ve been working on, particularly from the back half.”
” Our mids getting on top at the stoppages helped us with that territory and allowed us to have those repeat shot at goal,” he said.
Smith was keen to highlight how well his playing group had adjusted in recent weeks to some key structural changes made in the wake of several big name departures heading into the season, headlined by Zac Burt and Tom Bennett.
With a number of the Bombers’ younger players now having reached the 30-40 game mark, Smith said the coaching group was now starting to see consistent contributions from Sherrin Egger, Ben Simpson, Karlton Wadley and Jack Rushton.
“People forget that our (team) age is still pretty young; we’ve got seven or eight players in the squad for the under-25 game (against a Victoria Metro Under-25’s).
The Bombers have a two-week ‘mini pre-season’ before facing off against perpetual dark horses Launceston in Round 11 at the University of Tasmania Stadium on a Friday night, a match Smith expected the whole of the Northern town to get behind.
For Clarence assistant coach Jarrod Reid, it was a tough afternoon in the coaching box as his young charges fell away after the first change.
“We definitely had a good start; we play patches of football but then we have large lapses of concentration and work ethic and work rate.”
“We have a lot of ins and outs with our Devils and Development League players, so keeping that stable team (is something) we haven’t got currently, whereas North Launceston have got more of that core nucleus that they’ve had over the four to five year period.”
“They understand their game plan, their craft and what they’ve got to do, and we’re still working on that phase within our own footy department.”
Young Devils trio Sam Lewis-Johnson, Ethan Jackson, and Sam Green all showed glimpses of the future for the ‘Roos, while midfield stalwarts Brady Jones and Jeromey Webberley were tireless, as was Jack Preshaw.
Clarence will next face rivals Glenorchy in a big clash at KGV, with the Magpies sure to be stinging after two losses on the trot, a game Reid marked as a chance for the Eastern Shore side to redeem itself.
North Launceston 4.5, 9.7, 15.14, 20.16 (136)
Clarence 2.1, 3.3, 5.5, 8.6 (54)
North Launceston : B. McCulloch 5, B. Cox-Goodyer 4, D. Bannister 3, S. Egger 2, R. Mansell 2, K. Wadley 2, J. Ponting 1, T. Whitford
Clarence : C. Nield 2, J. Smith, J. Bailey, Z. Buechner, R. Bailey, A. Butterworth, J. Harper
North Launceston : T. Whitford, B. Cox-Goodyer, A. Richter-Salter, J.Rushton, B. McCulloch, J. Ponting
Clarence: B. Jones, J. Preshaw, J. Webberley, M. Ling, S. Lewis-Johnson, C. Nield