Launceston has cruised through to the second week of Bupa TSL finals footy, dismantling the Tigers to the tune of 55 points in Saturday’s Elimination Final at Windsor Park.
The Tigers, in their first ever finals contest, showed moments of fight, but were ultimately outclassed in the 14.10 (94) to 5.9 (39) result.
The Blues, celebrating midfielder Tim Bristow’s 150th match, won the toss and made the most of a handy breeze to the southern end of the ground, booting the only five majors of the opening term to set up a more-than-handy 29-point advantage by the first change.
A big one-on-one contest between Casey Brown and Lochie Griggs in the Tigers’ attacking 50 laid the foundations for the Blues, with Brown not only winning the contest, but taking the game on with three bounces en route to setting up an Alec Wright major.
The Tigers looked to make the most of the breeze in the second term, but some poor entries inside forward 50 made life difficult for key targets Michael Paul and Tyler Carter.
Two moments of brilliance from Kieran Lovell, and a classy goal from 16-year-old Alex Bessell provided a spark midway through the term, but two late goals into the difficult breeze from Launceston proved to be worth their weight in gold, helping the hosts to stem the Tigers’ momentum and set up a strong 23-point buffer at the half.
The general sense of the game seemed to indicate that the Tigers hadn’t done enough to take full toll of the breeze in the second term, but after kicking eight goals the week prior, confidence among the group remained strong.
Some tough defensive efforts early in the third term ensured the Tigers weren’t blown away, but the shear weight of inside 50 numbers from the Blues eventually won out, with the likes of Mitch Thorp, Fletcher Seymour and the dangerous Jay Blackberry (who kicked two goals for the term) hitting the scoreboard.
A 57-point deficit at the final change was always going to be tough, and although the Tigers played the game out to the final siren, the result was well and truly beyond doubt.
The midfield battle was always going to be critical with some of the competition’s best going head-to-head, and although Launceston bull Fletcher Seymour was well held for much of the game by Tigers tagger Lachy Watt, the likes of Tim Bristow and Jobi Harper found plenty of the football, even against the ever-prolific Kieran Lovell, who was also at his damaging best.
Launceston ruckman Hamish Leedham was also dominant, giving his midfielders first use with nearly 60 hit-outs for the afternoon.
The margin could’ve been bigger, however, had it not been for the desperate defensive efforts of Blake McCulloch and Lachie Gadomski – with the young Tigers standing tall in the absence of injured defenders Jarryd Drew and Will Poland.
McCulloch did a great job on Launceston coach Mitch Thorp, while Gadomski got the better of the ever-dangerous Dylan Riley.
This contest drew curtains on a successful season for the Tigers, who embarked on their first finals campaign, while Launceston will now prepare for a Semi Final showdown with Glenorchy at KGV on Saturday.
Launceston 5.2, 7.4, 12.8, 14.10 (94)
Tigers 0.3, 3.5, 3.5, 5.9 (39)
Launceston : J. Blackberry 3, M. Thorp 2, D. Riley 2, A. Wright 2, J. Harper, B. Killalea, J. Gillow, F. Seymour, C. Brown
Tigers : K. Lovell 2, R. Matthews, A. Bessell, L. Graham
Launceston : T. Bristow, J. Harper, S. Vandervelde, J. Boyd, J. Smith, J. Dakin
Tigers : L. Gadomski, B. McCulloch, L. Watt, S. Duigan, K. Lovell, L. Clifford