Launceston has recaptured its form and kept their top-three hopes alive with a comprehensive 65-point win over Clarence at Blundstone Arena on Saturday, writes Hamish Spence.
The Blues entered the match off the back of two losses in a row, but never looked in doubt, leaving as 14.11. (95) to 4.6. (30) victors.
Their midfield group owned the contested ball and were strong around stoppages, thriving in the tough and wet conditions, with even the late withdrawal of coach and forward spearhead Mitch Thorp not enough to curb the Blues.
The ‘Roos looked a chance at half-time, after gathering some momentum in the back half of the second term, but were held goalless in the second half.
Both teams struggled to score at the start of the game in the rain.
Christopher Nield eventually broke the ice, with a good chest mark and goal for the first of the game. This was the only bright spot for the ‘Roos in the first, as the Blues started to take over.
Dylan Riley and Alec Wright both had strong hands in the wet and kicked the next two goals. Jobi Harper continued his great start to the game after converting a set-shot.
Fletcher Seymour flexed his muscle with the last two goals of the quarter, including a great rove of the contest, giving the Blues a 27-point lead at quarter time.
James Gillow received a free and just converted at the start of the second, after some consideration on the line from the goal umpire.
Scoring dried up in the wet conditions, before ruckman Ryan Bailey broke the drought of goals for Clarence. Dylan Riley received a 50m penalty and got his second for the quick reply.
Clarence had the ascendancy and Jake Cox took full advantage, with the last two goals of the first half, including an incredible running banana from a tough angle.
The ‘Roos trailed by 21 points at half-time, but had some belief heading into the second half.
Alec Wright started the third with a bang, with the first two goals of the term.
Fletcher Seymour also got his third after a great collect off the ground, and Casey Brown finished off nice some end to end footy from the Blues.
There was a break in goals, where the ’Roos had it at their end of the ground, but failed to capitalise.
Alec Wright snapped around his body for his third of the term, giving the Blues a 49-point lead at the final break.
The final quarter was a sluggish one, with both teams struggling to score in the wet, after a tough and physical game.
James Gillow was the lone goalkicker, with two goals for the term. He got one early in the term after a soccer from the goal square, and finished the game with a good sliding mark and set-shot for his third, leaving the Blues as 65-point winners.
The Blues did have some injury concerns, however, with Tim Bristow and Dylan Riley both going down during the game.
Bristow was knocked out putting his head over the ball in the second quarter, while Dylan Riley felt tight in the third quarter, with the Blues erring on the side of caution. Mitch Thorp was a late out, but will play against the Tigers in Round 21.
Fletcher Seymour played an elite game and only strengthened his claim as the RACT Insurance Player of the Year. He had 32 disposals, 23 contested possessions, 10 clearances, 10 tackles and kicked three goals.
Jobi Harper was a handy partner crime, finishing with plenty of clearances, contested possessions and a goal.
Ruckman Hamish Leedham gave his midfield first service and often filled a hole down back or down the line.
Young Alec Wright shined in the absence of Mitch Thorp. He kicked four goals for the game, with three coming in the third quarter.
James Holmes battled well across half-back and stood up against the rush of Launceston inside 50’s.
Jake Cox was influential in Clarence’s second quarter surge and was their only multiple goalkicker with two.
Launceston coach Mitch Thorp was pleased with his team’s strong performance.
“I thought from the get-go the boys were on; we started winning the ball at the stoppage, getting it inside 50 and we hit the scoreboard pretty heavily in the first half.”
He gave credit to his midfield and backline for restricting Clarence’s scoring.
“It was a testament to our midfield’s work around the ball that went inside 50, and when it did, our backs cleaned up really well and they’ve done a great job all year.”
“It was about just getting the momentum swinging back our way. The byes come at a really good time for us to freshen up and attack the pointy end of the season.”
Clarence coach Jeromey Webberley said Launceston controlled the territory battle in the wet conditions.
“I just thought the contested ball, at stoppage and around the ground, they just smashed us all over the ground.”
He gave credit to the Blues for the way they played in the wet conditions, labelling Fletcher Seymour and Jobi Harper as the two best inside midfielders in the competition.
“They’re probably the best wet weather team in the competition. We’ve had them twice in the wet and they’ve brained us twice.”
Webberley was disappointed that his side didn’t carry their momentum at half-time into the second half.
“Yeah, I was a little bit disappointed. The feeling through the second half of the second quarter was really good,” he said.
“However, that was probably the only 15 minutes of the game that we won.”
Clarence: 1.0, 4.1, 4.5, 4.6 (30)
Launceston: 5.3, 7.4, 12.6, 14.11 (95)
Clarence: J. Cox (2), C Nield, R. Bailey
Launceston: A. Wright (4), J. Gillow (3), F. Seymour (3), D. Riley (2), J. Harper, C. Brown
Clarence: J. Holmes, J. Bealey, Z. Buechner, J. Preshaw, B. Jones, C. Riley
Launceston: F. Seymour, H. Leedham, J. Harper, A. Wright, C. Brown. G. Holt
Clarence cross the bridge to face the Tigers at Twins Ovals at 2:00pm next Saturday for the Gadomski-Riewoldt Trophy.
Launceston have a much-needed bye and then host the Tigers at Windsor Park at 2:00pm on Saturday the 24th of August, which could potentially be an Elimination Final preview for the following week.