Cold and wet conditions greeted Glenorchy and Launceston at KGV on Saturday afternoon, with the Blues emphatically taking out the sudden-death Semi Final to progress into a Preliminary Final showdown with Lauderdale.
We take a look at six of the key talking points from the match.
- Big-bodied Blues as good as any in the wet
Jobi Harper. Fletcher Seymour. Tim Bristow. Jay Blackberry. Brodie Palfreyman.
Is there a contingent in the competition better suited to wet-weather, contested footy?
The Blues are spoiled for options in the middle, with the likes of Harper and Seymour both in the competition’s very top bracket of contested midfielders.
These two were up to their usual tricks at KGV, using their strength to bully the Magpies at the coalface.
Throw in Bristow, a player who can hurt you on the inside and outside, and hard-runners Jay Blackberry and Brodie Palfreyman and you have a finals-hardened midfield clique.
Wet weather suited this group, but with finals football generally a contested and territory-focused beast, the Blues look well-suited.
Coach Mitch Thorp was pleased with the efforts of this midfield group.
“We knew it was going to be a scrap but our guys around the ball stood up when they needed to,” he said.
“We set ourselves for this one… We respect Glenorchy greatly and the game was an arm-wrestle. We got some momentum late in the opening term and were able to carry that into the rest of the game,” Thorp said.
- Jay Blackberry is recapturing some of his best form
After having his 2018 season cruelly cut short due to an ACL injury, Launceston co-captain Jay Blackberry has been a strong contributor to Launceston’s senior side since returning in May.
Spending most of his time as a crafty half forward since returning, Blackberry has slowly been working his way back into the midfield in recent weeks, with his efforts against the Magpies arguably his best performance of the year.
Blackberry had close to 30 disposals and kicked two goals, thriving in the muddy conditions.
Blackberry’s deadly disposal by foot has never been in question, but in tough conditions, it came to the fore on Saturday when others struggled to hit targets.
There is no doubting that a fully-fit and confident Jay Blackberry will give opposition coaches plenty to think about.
- If Thorp doesn’t get you, Riley will
Launceston’s capacity to hit the scoreboard has been highly impressive in recent times, and none more so than in the torrential conditions offered up on Saturday.
The Blues kicked 12 goals from 28 scoring shots in the wet. Compare that with the Magpies’ four goals from eight scoring shots and you have a clear indication as to just how dominant Mitch Thorp’s side were.
However, viewers from afar might be surprised that Thorp, the 2018 Hudson Medalist, was kept goalless.
A fellow tattooed former Devonport Magpie instead stepped up as chief destroyer, with Dylan Riley kicking six in tough conditions for forwards.
Combining sharp game sense to engage opponents and draw free kicks, strong marking and dynamic roving, Riley played a sensational game and looked cleaner than anyone else on the field.
Throw in two goals from midfielder Jobi Harper and a further two from Jay Blackberry – who also spent serious time in the midfield – and the visitors highlighted their many avenues to hitting the scoreboard.
- Blues keep Magpies to their third-lowest ever TSL score
The conditions were torrid, but Launceston’s defensive effort was remarkably strong.
Glenorchy were kept to just 4.4 (28), the Magpies’ third-lowest overall score and lowest against Launceston since the TSL reformed in 2009.
The Blues’ defensive unit were exemplary, with Jake Smith’s efforts to keep Hudson Medalist Aiden Grace goalless the key example of this, helping the visitors record their third win at KGV for the year.
Jack Tuthill was again strong, as were Miller Hodge, Simon Vandervelde and Jacob Boyd on a day that also saw Launceston’s defensive work further afield prove to be decisive.
- Leedham finding best form at perfect time
A leader at Windsor Park, Hamish Leedham is building into some of his best form at the perfect time.
A consistent performer throughout the campaign, Leedham looks to have taken his game to another level, backing a dominant 60-hit out, 20 disposal Elimination Final effort against the Tigers with another outstanding showing in the wet, emerging as the contest’s dominant big man.
Against stiff opposition in Magpie Cameron Duffy, Leedham was exemplary, providing his big-bodied midfield with first use, laying bone-crunching tackles and working well around the ground.
A meeting with Lauderdale star Haydn Smith awaits in the Preliminary Final, and although the tall Bomber was picked ahead of Leedham in the Bupa TSL Team of the Year, the big Blue will go into the match-up in top form.
- Endeavour of Magpie leaders not in question
It was a dirty day for the injury-hit Magpies, with the absences of Brayden Webb, Harrison Gunther, Daniel Joseph, Trad Duggan, Josh Grant and others never as pronounced as it was on the weekend.
The Magpies were well-led by stand-in skipper Josh Arnold and stalwart Jaye Bowden, however, with the two giving their all for the entire afternoon; even when things weren’t going to plan.
Bowden dealt with a hard-tag from young Blue stopper Jack Tuthill, and although Tuthill did a solid job, Bowden still emerged as one of the best players on the field with moments of brilliance and consistent endeavour.
Arnold was similarly strong down back, on a day where his defensive unit was constantly bombarded with chaotic Launceston entries.
The two leaders have been enormous in Glenorchy’s centenary season, providing terrific leadership to a host of young players and real-time impact on the field.
It’s a performance Glenorchy will be eager to move on from quickly, but Arnold and Bowden should both hold their head high.
Launceston will meet Lauderdale at Blundstone Arena on Saturday for a spot in the 2019 Bupa TSL Grand Final. This is the second time Launceston and Lauderdale have met in a Preliminary Final in three seasons.
This loss drew curtains on Glenorchy’s 2019 Bupa TSL campaign, with the Magpies going out in straight sets.
Launceston 3.1, 4.5, 7.12, 12.16 (88)
Glenorchy 1.1, 1.2, 2.2, 4.4 (28)
Glenorchy : C. French 2, L. Smith, J. Bowden
Launceston : D. Riley 6, J. Harper 2, J. Blackberry 2, B. Taylor, A. Wright
Glenorchy : J. Arnold, J. Bowden, L. Smith, R. Banks-Smith, N. Blowfield , J. Geard
Launceston : J. Harper, J. Blackberry, F. Seymour, D. Riley, B. Killalea, H. Leedham