In-form Blues preparing for midfield battle

Launceston claimed another finals scalp with Saturday’s impressive wet-weather win over the Magpies at KGV, and although his side is buoyant about their form, co-captain Jobi Harper is preparing for a titanic battle with the Southern Bombers this weekend. 

 

Launceston controlled the contest on the scoreboard from start to finish, acclimatizing best to muddy, scrappy conditions.

Harper, 26, acknowledged that the win was significant for the confidence of the Blues’ young brigade of emerging talent.

“It does mean a lot to win like that and a lot of it comes down to the belief in the younger guys.

“There are 10 or so who have come through and played their first game of senior footy since the start of the season… they now have the belief that they are good enough and that they can perform on a finals stage,” he said.

 

Harper, who was last week named in the Bupa TSL Team of the Year, was at his dynamic best in last weekend’s wet-weather win over the Magpies at KGV.

“It was a good win. For our young boys to go down on the bus and play a pretty combative game, it was what we have been working towards all year. We have been building a game plan that would be suited to finals it was great to see it happen.

“We were on top on the scoreboard but I felt around the ground it was still a very combative game, like all finals footy is.”

 

Launceston’s big-bodied midfield has impressed throughout the season, with Harper at the very forefront in this area of the ground.

A midfield battle between Blues brothers Harper, Fletcher Seymour, Brodie Palfreyman and Tim Bristow and Bomber brigade Bryce Walsh, Sam Siggins, Phil Bellchambers and Nat Franklin looms as a tantalising prospect, with Harper under no illusions as to how big of a challenge the Southern Bombers present – even off the back of a loss.

“We are expecting Lauderdale to come in fired up with another Grand Final appearance, and their third in a row, on the line this weekend.

“We will do everything we can to combat them. We know they bring contested footy and are hard at it, so it’s going to be a pretty good game to watch on the weekend with both sides playing a similar way,” Harper said.

“In any game the midfield battle and territory is crucial. If you can spend more time with the ball in your forward half, you should win more games than you don’t. Territory was massive against Glenorchy last weekend, and it will again come down to playing the ball in your half rather than theirs.

“Lauderdale could have potentiality put more scoreboard pressure on last weekend against North. We know they can score really quickly and that they can put scoreboard pressure on, so we will need to play our style, which is a competitive brand of football, and hopefully we can get it done again.”

 

Harper, a 2013 TSL premiership player and Baldock Medalist with South Launceston, acknowledges that a Grand Final showdown with cross-town rival North Launceston will be big for both clubs, but his focus for now remains honed on a Preliminary Final date with Lauderdale.

“It’s a prestigious club, the Launceston footy club, and there are a lot of people who really do care about how we go and how we are. If the time comes, and if we play good enough football this weekend, we will get the opportunity and we would expect quite a few supporters to come down and support us.

“It would be massive to play North Launceston… There is a massive rivalry between us and North Launceston as the two Launceston clubs, so to go head to head in a Grand Final would be pretty big, but for the moment we are just fully focused on Lauderdale.

“It doesn’t matter if we can’t beat them this week,” he said.