Another season, another North Launceston #BUPATSL Grand Final appearance.
The Northern juggernaut continues to roll, with Sunday’s impressive 37-point win over Lauderdale booking the club’s sixth consecutive Grand Final appearance.
We take a look at six of the key talking points from the contest:
- HOLY TRINITY AND MORE FIRE
North Launceston’s star trio – Brad Cox-Goodyer, Josh Ponting and Taylor Whitford all fired throughout the match to further push their status as the Bombers’ answer to Ablett, Dangerfield and Selwood.
Ponting and Whitford were both prolific all day – particularly in the opening half, with the coach kicking a crucial goal early.
Cox-Goodyer was somewhere below his best early but worked his way into the contest magnificently, imposing himself both at the coalface and forward of centre en route to a five-goal haul.
The trio were well supported by the likes of Jordan Tepper in the middle and Jack Avent in defence, who like Whitford, played his 150th game for the club.
Lauderdale battled away in the midfield but struggled to get their hands on the ball – especially in a two-scoring shots to nine opening term.
- WIN AT A COST?
It wasn’t all good news for North Launceston with two key injury concerns.
Team of the Year defender Braden van Buuren landed awkwardly after a big collision with Lauderdale skipper Bryce Walsh in the second term.
Walsh looked groggy as he left the field, but van Buuren came off the worst, having landed awkwardly and dislocating his elbow as a result.
Twelve minutes into the third term and the Bombers were dealt another injury blow, with ruckman Alex Lee injuring his knee after an awkward landing in the centre circle.
van Buuren has been critical in his first season in the red and black, becoming a valuable defender with the capacity to shut down an opposing forward and generate attacking drive, while Lee – who rucked for the Tasmania Devils U25 side earlier in the year – has had another consistent campaign as one of the competition’s premier big men.
Coach Taylor Whitford was level-headed when talking about the two injuries post match.
“I know for Braden the dislocation went back in. He has gone to hospital now so I wouldn’t have thought he is any guarantee.”
“For Alex, unfortunately it was a knee and doesn’t look good… We have to look at what Bart can do for us, he is a pretty quality ruckman but no matter who we play, Haydn Smith or Hamish Leedham, we will have to put some time into it.”
- YOUNG GUNS RETURN AT A GOOD TIME
The likes of Tasmania Devils pair Rhyan Mansell and Jackson Callow has come at an opportune time for the Northern Bombers.
Now with a handful of senior games under their belts, Mansell provides elite tackle pressure and has a knack for making the most of tough opportunities.
Callow is similarly explosive, acting as another reliable avenue to goal and as a key target forward of centre. The absence of Alex Lee may make Callow’s role all the more significant, with the talented forward also capable of pinch-hitting in the ruck, as he demonstrated on Sunday.
Throw Mansell and Callow into a mix that already boasts fellow youngsters Tom Donnelly, Ben Simpson, Karlton Wadley, Sherrin Egger, William Edmunds, Fletcher Bennett and Jack Rushton, and the Bombers’ mix of experience and youth looks all the more damaging.
- THE LACK OF JOSH MCGUINNESS HURTS
There is no doubting that the loss of Josh McGuinness has hurt Lauderdale.
McGuinness provides not only run and carry and an experienced head down back, but also a key pillar in the team’s structure.
McGuinness’ capacity to shut down an opponent and generate drive makes him a valuable asset, and as a leader of the team, his experience and footy smarts would provide plenty of value at this time of year.
Lauderdale expect McGuinness to return for this weekend’s Preliminary Final showdown, and if he is fully fit and the Southern Bombers are to win through, expect McGuinness to make a big impact on the result of a Bomber battle in the decider.
- RAGLIONE v FOON
Nick Raglione is one of a number of Lauderdale players who have played a variety of roles in season 2019.
Sunday saw Raglione spent most of his time forward of centre, where he was tasked with curbing the influence of North Launceston gun Jay Foon.
Raglione bobbed up to kick three goals for the day, but Foon still managed to stand tall across half back.
Lauderdale have clearly identified Foon as a key cog in North Launceston’s machinery. Whether it is Lauderdale or Launceston that ends up playing North Launceston in the decider, expect Foon to again be kept under a watchful eye.
- LAUDERDALE’S FORWARD ENTRIES
The breeze at Windsor Park made things difficult, but Lauderdale didn’t help themselves in the opening term with repeated shallow forward 50 entries.
Kicking into a 2-3 goal breeze, Lauderdale often had good build-ups in play from half back but too often fell apart when trying to hit up targets inside the arc.
Expect this to be a key area of improvement for Lauderdale moving forward, especially if they are to meet the Northern Bombers again, a side that boasts strong intercept defenders like Foon, Arion Richter-Salter and Jack Avent.
North Launceston will enjoy another weekend off ahead of the #BUPATSL Grand Final on Saturday 21 September. Taylor Whitford’s side will meet either Lauderdale for the third time in as many years in the decider, or cross-town rival Launceston.
Lauderdale will battle the Blues at Blundstone Arena on Saturday with a spot in the 2019 decider on the line.
North Launceston 4.5, 6.10, 9.17, 13.17 (95)
Lauderdale 1.1, 3.5, 5.5, 8.10 (58)
North Launceston : B. Cox-Goodyer 5, W. Edmunds 2, J. Foon, B. McCulloch, J. Callow, R. Mansell, J. Tepper, D. Bannister
Lauderdale : N. Raglione 3, J. Gillbee 2, A. Saunders 2, N. Franklin
North Launceston : J. Avent, J. Ponting, T. Whitford, R. Mansell, B. Cox-Goodyer, J. Foon
Lauderdale : B. Walsh, S. Siggins, H. Smith, E. Trupp, N. Franklin, P. Bellchambers