By Alex FitzGerald
Ladder leaders Lauderdale have skipped two games clear of second-placed North Launceston after grinding out a tough 24-point win over a brave North Hobart outfit in difficult conditions at SkyBus Oval on Saturday.
The visitors held the Bombers goalless in the first term, taking a 14-point lead into the first change after kicking with the breeze, but the hosts made the most of their opportunities in the second, booting five goals in what would ultimately decide the contest to walk off the ground 7.11 (53) to 3.11 (29) winners.
With rain muddying the ground and a strong breeze blowing to the far end, strong numbers were present around the ball at all times making for a less-than-spectacular but physical contest, with the first term marred by a heavy collision between North Hobart’s Oliver Di Venuto and Bomber Josh McGuinness, with both players leaving the field due to concussion.
The Dees played their best football early, but would be left rueing their inaccuracy in front of goal and inability to score in the two quarters kicking into the wind, as the Bombers piled on four fast majors before the main break and held the visitors at bay for the rest of the afternoon with collective patience and determination.
Lauderdale Assistant Coach Clint Brown admitted that while the game wasn’t pretty, he was proud of how his side dug in and emerged four crucial points.
Brown praised the in-and-under work of midfield duo Bryce Walsh and Sam Burge, who gave the outside runners plenty of assistance, with the former also utilised in an unfamiliar role across half-back in the third term to great effect.
But the greatest commendation was saved for ruckman Haydyn Smith, who remained a four-quarter presence throughout the contest to rack up midfielder-like statistics.
“I think Haydo, even though he’s a ruckman, was pretty good on the ground as well,” Brown said.
“He finished with 28 possessions, took a lot of marks around the ground, and I don’t think he lost many taps either.”
Jacob Gilbee played a strong role on dangerous North Hobart star Sam Darley before joining McGuinness on the sidelines with concussion symptoms at half-time, while the unheralded Josh Williams was composed in the backline alongside defensive general Ed Trupp.
The Bombers will head to Windsor Park next week to face a red-hot Launceston side in one of the more salivating match-ups this season, with Brown wary of a side making waves at the right time of the year.
“There’s some quality players there, Hinds and Riley have come back and they’re two players we had to keep an eye on last year.”
North Hobart Coach Richard Robinson was impressed with how his charges battled all day against a stronger side, but was disappointed in their inability to kick straight, particularly when dominating the game in the early stages.
“We just didn’t make enough of our opportunities in the first quarter, kicking two goals (and) six (behinds),” he said.
“Lauderdale kicked five goals in the second quarter, and in the end that has been the difference.”
Robinson was pleased with how North Hobart were able to restrict the Bombers’ forward line, with the Dees conceding just 12 goals across the past fortnight.
“Defensively, the back six is starting to get some continuity,” he said.
“To keep a side like Lauderdale to seven goals is a pretty good effort, and obviously the week before (against) the ‘Roos, we kept them to five goals.”
“That comes from pressure further up the ground, and with the way we’re playing one on one as much as we can, hopefully that means the opposition doesn’t score as heavily as it has done in the first half of the season.”
North Hobart will face a Glenorchy side coming off a big loss to Launceston, with the Magpies eager to reclaim third spot on the BUPA TSL ladder, a clash Robinson is quietly confident about despite recent struggles against the KGV powerhouse.
“We’ve been ok against Glenorchy both times this year, so we just need to make sure we’re switched on,” he said.
“They haven’t won for a few weeks now and they’ll come out really prepared to take us on.”
Lauderdale 0.2, 5.4, 5.6, 7.11 (53)
North Hobart 2.6, 2.6, 3.11, 3.11 (29)
Lauderdale : R. McManus 2, S. Burge 2, H. Kerinaiua, A. Hevey, H. Smith
North Hobart : C. Garland 2, S. Darley
Lauderdale : H. Smith, E. Trupp, B. Walsh, J. Gilbee, S. Burge, A. Saunders
North Hobart : S. Darley, N. McCulloch, H. Ireland, A. Norton, H. Williams, N. Lee