By Alex FitzGerald
A ‘dangerous’ Launceston outfit has reminded Bupa TSL sides that they remain a team to be feared come September after recording a strong 43-point win against the Tigers at the Twin Ovals on Saturday.
The Blues announced their intentions by piling on four goals inside the opening 15 minutes of the contest, and while the Tigers managed to rally a number of times across the afternoon, the visitors were never headed, running out convincing 16.11 (107) to 9.10 (64) victors.
Launceston’s engine-room was simply sensational, with Fletcher Seymour and Jobi Harper benefitting from ruckman Hamish Leedham’s ruck work in the middle to repeatedly drive the ball cleanly inside attacking 50, with Brodie Palfreyman and James Gillow also busy on the outside.
In a forward line best-described as stacked, Jay Blackberry (four goals) and Dylan Riley (three) did most of the damage on the scoreboard as the Blues found many avenues to goal across the four quarters.
For Tigers head coach Trent Baumeler it was a game that got away early from the hosts, who were forced to make five changes to the side which narrowly lost to Glenorchy last week due to injuries and illness.
“They jumped us at the start, and I thought we worked pretty decently back into the contest before a bit of red time (in the)second term put us on the back foot,” he said.
Baumeler lamented the fast ball movement the Blues were able to get to Riley and Mitch Thorp in the air, sounding out a warning to other clubs regarding the former, who returned to Launceston last week after an impressive stint with NTFA division one club Meander Valley.
“Riley was sensational today, he was great.”
“The marks he took and the scoring opportunities he gets, (it’s going to be) hard for any team to stop all three (Riley, Blackberry, Thorp).”
Tyler Carter was one Tiger who could hold his head up high, spending time in the ruck and taking some strong grabs up forward to finish with four majors.
Micah Reynolds battled manfully on Thorp, holding the former Hawthorn-listed player goalless, while Lachie Clifford and Kieran Lovell were tireless in the midfield.
The Tigers remain three games clear of sixth-placed Clarence and will face North Launceston next week as they continue to work towards an unchartered finals berth.
For Launceston playing coach Thorp, it was a game won in the midfield.
“I thought we got on top around the stoppages, we had a pretty significant win around that area,” he said.
“I thought our big bulls inside did some great work.”
“Fletcher Seymour and Jobi Harper in particular were really strong around the contest, and Tim Bristow was outstanding in his return.”
While the stars dazzled, Thorp was quick to pay tribute to the development of the more inexperienced players making up the Blues’ 22.
“I think the growth has really come from our bottom end; we’ve debuted 15 young blokes this year,” he said.
“They’ve got (around) 14 games under their belt and they’re a lot more comfortable and confident on what roles they need to play, and that’s where our future lies.”
Launceston now sit just four points behind third-placed Glenorchy, who they will square off against at KGV next week.
Thorp is candid about eyeing off a double chance in two months’ time, but acknowledges the experience and strong form of current top-two sides North Launceston and Lauderdale
“We’re happy to put our heads down and bums up and try to get better as the season wears on, and then (we’ll) try to be as dangerous as we can.”
Tigers 2.1, 3.7, 6.8, 9.10 (64)
Launceston 4.3, 9.7, 13.9, 16.11 (107)
Tigers : T. Carter 4, K. Lovell, L. Graham, J. Pearce, M. Davies, L. Griggs
Launceston : J. Blackberry 4, D. Riley 3, J. Harper 2, J. Gillow 2, T. Bristow 2, B. Palfreyman, B. Taylor, C. Brown
Tigers: T. Carter, J. Drew, L. Clifford, M. Gardner, S. Duigan, A. Bessell
Launceston: F. Seymour, D. Riley, J. Harper, J. Gillow, J. Blackberry, R. Tyrell