By Hamish Spence
North Launceston showed why they are the form team of the competition, with a dominant 91-point win over North Hobart at North Hobart Oval on Saturday.
After a close first quarter, the Northern Bombers stretched away with a seven goal second quarter to run away 15.16. (106) to 2.3. (15) winners.
It continued their excellent run of form ever since their last clash against the ‘Dees, boosting their already impressive percentage to a massive 208.2%.
North Hobart were very competitive in a close first quarter, but fell away as North Launceston’s class and experience started to show.
The young Dees were dealt a massive blow with the loss of Colin Garland and a slew of Tasmania Devils players during the week, with star midfielder Sam Darley also a late out before the game.
The first quarter was a tight, contested struggle, with both teams having moments of ascendency. North Launceston kicked off proceedings through Bart McCulloch, but missed some opportunities throughout the term.
North Hobart started to turn the tide, but struggled to create opportunities in front of goal. Nathan McCulloch eventually kicked their first after a turnover from North Launceston. Even though they trailed by five-points at quarter time, the Dees arguably had the momentum heading into the second quarter, after getting on top in the latter half of the first term.
North Launceston quickly put the Dees to the sword in the second quarter, booting seven goals to North Hobart’s lone point. Their surge came from their dominance in the middle, with captain Brad Cox-Goodyer leading the way around the contest and kicking two goals. Big man Bart McCulloch also slotted two more goals, to leave the Northern Bombers as 51-point leaders at half-time.
North Hobart were able to stem the bleeding in the third quarter. They restricted North Launceston to just two goals for the term and kicked their second goal of the game through Brendan Midson. Dakota Bannister kicked his first and Bart McCulloch kicked his fourth major to extend the visitors lead to 58-points at the final break.
Despite North Hobart’s coach, Richard “Bear” Robinson, challenging his team to win the final quarter, North Launceston showed their class with five unanswered goals. McCulloch, Cox-Goodyer and Bannister all added to their existing tallies, while Liam Davies kicked his first for day.
Bart McCulloch was the man up forward with six goals for the Northern Bombers. He looked on all day after kicking the first goal of the game and flew for virtually every marking contest in his general vicinity.
Captain Brad Cox-Goodyer was dominant in the middle and a contested bull around stoppages. He also made an impact up forward, by booting four goals for the match.
Joshua Ponting was his usual prolific self in the centre as well.
Nathan McCulloch competed all day for the Dees. He set the tone in the middle early on, with his work around the contest and his fierce tackling. He was also one of North Hobart’s two goalkickers.
Callum Kilpatrick also battled well and was particularly impressive with his work up the ground.
North Launceston coach Taylor Whitford was pleased with how his team responded in the second quarter.
“I put it on them a little bit at quarter time and to get a response with a seven goal second quarter, and we probably put the game to bed in that second quarter, which was really positive.”
He had high praise for Bart McCulloch, who he expects to continue this form into the second half of the year, after some injury troubles earlier in the season.
“Personally, I think he’s the best key forward in the comp. I don’t think there are too many big key forwards going around and he’s probably one of them, so he’s a real asset for us.”
He looked towards a huge fortnight of footy against the other two top teams in the competition.
“We’ve got Lauderdale and Glenorchy both at home, which is a really good fortnight for our footy club.”
North Hobart coach Richard “Bear” Robinson said the first quarter was an example of what his team can do when they follow instructions.
“It just shows that when we follow instructions, we can be competitive. We just know we have a lot of work to do to maintain that for longer.”
He said that they went away from their one-on-one structure in the second quarter.
“Guys were letting each other down a bit. As a coaching group we spoke to them pretty strongly at half-time and let them know we weren’t happy with some of their efforts.”
“To our guys credit they battled manfully in the second half, it just shows we still have a lot of work.”
North Hobart: 1.0, 1.1, 2.2, 2.3. (15)
North Launceston: 1.5, 8.10, 10.12, 15.16. (106)
North Hobart: N. McCulloch, B. Midson
North Launceston: B. McCulloch (6), B. Cox-Goodyer (4), D. Bannister (2), S. Egger, T. Whitford, L. Davies
North Hobart: M. Yates, J. Charlton, B. Lee, N. McCulloch, C. Kilapatrick, W. Cole
North Launceston: J. Ponting, B. Cox-Goodyer, T. Whitford, A. Ritcher-Salter, J. Avent, B. van Buuren
North Hobart have the bye and then host Clarence on Saturday the 6th of July at 2:00pm at North Hobart Oval.
North Launceston have a massive clash against Lauderdale next Saturday at 2:00pm at UTAS Stadium. Lauderdale are the only team North Launceston have lost to so far this season and the game will decide the ladder leader.