It will all be on the line this Saturday when North Launceston and Lauderdale fight for the 2019 #BUPATSL Premiership at Blundstone Arena.
We break down what to expect from the hotly-anticipated Battle of the Bombers.
Head-to-head: North Launceston – 14 (2)| Lauderdale – 9 (2)
Round 5, 2019: Lauderdale 11.8 (74) def. North Launceston 8.10 (58) – Skybus Oval
Round 13, 2019: North Launceston 4.13 (37) def. by Lauderdale 10.14 (74) – UTAS Stadium
Round 19, 2019: Lauderdale 3.5 (23) def. by North Launceston 9.14 (68) – Skybus Oval
Semi Final, 2019: North Launceston 13.17 (95) def. Lauderdale 8.9 (57) – Windsor Park
Brad Cox-Goodyer (North Launceston): One of the competition’s most dominant performers in recent years. A goal-kicking midfielder whose left boot is the stuff of nightmares for opposing sides. A two-time Baldock Medallist, BCG will lead by example.
Bryce Walsh (Lauderdale): Like Cox-Goodyer, a leader who can drag others along with him. Combative, spirited and hard as nails, Walsh will want nothing more than to steer his lifetime club to an elusive maiden flag.
Josh Ponting (North Launceston): Has emerged as one of the competition’s out-and-out superstars in recent seasons. A prolific ball-winner with silky skills and grunt at the coal face, Ponting has quickly moved from out of the shadows to become a genuine gun.
Josh McGuinness (Lauderdale): If the Lauderdale co-captain can get his intercept marking and run-and-carry game firing, the Southern Bombers are a far more formidable side. McGuinness is so often the barometer for Darren Winter’s side, but is also capable of sacrificing his own game to shutdown a dangerous opponent.
Jordan Tepper (North Launceston): Stepped into the shoes of former North Launceston premiership midfielder Mark Walsh magnificently to become one of the team’s more important players. A prolific ball winner who is as tough as they come.
Alex Saunders (Lauderdale): The talented speedster has enjoyed a strong 2019 campaign, impressing with his speed, agility and capacity to hit the scoreboard. Enjoyed one of his strongest performances in the Preliminary Final and looks built for the big stage.
The break glass in case of emergency:
Tom Donnelly (North Launceston): An underrated cog in the North Launceston machine. Donnelly has spent time as a running defender, wingman and key forward this season and performed all roles with aplomb. Only 20, but already a seasoned Grand Final performer.
Sam Siggins (Lauderdale): One of the competition’s most versatile players. Dragged Lauderdale back into the contest in the Preliminary Final after being moved into the ruck. Can play as a big-bodied mid, ruckman, key defender or forward target.
The question mark:
North Launceston: Complacency? The Northern Bombers have shown no signs of this in recent years, being ruthless in their continued pursuit for success. The question remains, however, as to whether a group, whose vast majority has already achieved so much, will once again be up for the challenge.
Lauderdale: History? A double-pronged question mark hovers over Lauderdale, with two Grand Final defeats in succession against the same opponent a difficult thing to shake. The second prong centres on whether Lauderdale ran their race last weekend, overcoming a strong Launceston outfit in dramatic circumstances. They will enter this game full of confidence and momentum but will need to back it up on the biggest day of all.
Alex Lee (North Launceston) v Haydn Smith (Lauderdale)
Lee, the state’s U25 ruckman earlier in the year, is in a race against time to be fit for the big dance after injuring his knee in the Semi Final a fortnight ago.
He looms as one of the key factors in deciding this contest, with Lauderdale big man Haydn Smith the competition’s dominant ruckman in 2019. Smith and Sam Siggins form a potent ruck combination, making Lee’s presence and performance a key one in determining which midfield can get on top.
Josh Ponting (North Launceston) v Nat Franklin (Lauderdale)
Ponting, the 2018 Lynch Medallist has gone from strength to strength this season, delivering another strong campaign. Will have a key role at the coal face against a deep Lauderdale midfield.
Nat Franklin has had another strong season but looks to be finding his best form at the right time of year. A bull around stoppages, Franklin will be a crucial weapon – particularly if the weather plays a role.
Bart McCulloch (North Launceston) v Edward Trupp (Lauderdale)
Again, dependent on Alex Lee’s fitness, McCulloch is one of the competition’s best forwards when up and running. Often receives silver service from the likes of Josh Ponting and Taylor Whitford.
Trupp has had a sensational debut TSL season, impressing as the competition’s form key defender. With great closing speed and a long reach, Trupp will make things tough for McCulloch in what promises to be a crucial duel.
Liam Davies (North Launceston) v Rhys Sutton (Lauderdale)
The two classy wingmen enter this clash in good form, with Davies seamlessly stepping into life at TSL level and Sutton generating some consistency and form after an injury-plagued year.
Both are hard runners and silky on the outside. Whoever gets on top up and down the wings will go a long way to getting their team on top.
Jay Foon (North Launceston) v Nick Raglione (Lauderdale)
Offensive drive out of defence is Jay Foon’s modus operandi. Shutting that down can go a long way to defeating North Launceston, and that’s exactly the role we can expect Nick Raglione to perform.
Raglione has spent much of the season generating similar drive for the Southern Bombers but was tasked with manning Foon as a defensive forward a fortnight ago. Capable of hitting the scoreboard, Raglione may end up as one of this game’s most decisive figures.
Taylor Whitford (North Launceston) v Robbie McManus (Lauderdale)
The two veterans might not play directly on one another, but they will both look to play a key role in their side’s fortunes with their class on the outside.
Both blessed with sublime skill, the two help their midfield bulls around the contest, and if able to hit the scoreboard, can have a big say on the result.
Mitch Anderton (Lauderdale) v Sherrin Egger (North Launceston)
Two of the competition’s most promising up-and-comers, Anderton will likely get the job on the fleet-footed Egger in North’s attacking 50.
Egger is a slippery customer and will make things tough for Anderton, but the latter has shown that he has the footy smarts and work rate to match it with the competition’s best small forwards.
Both sides thrive on contested ball, so expect things to be fierce at the coal face. North Launceston may be able to expose the Southern Bombers with midfield leg speed, while the multi-dimensional forward set-up of Bart McCulloch, Jackson Callow, Will Edmunds and Tom Donnelly may stretch the Lauderdale defence. Lauderdale would have learned plenty from their Semi Final defeat, but Darren Winter’s men will need to work on generating attacking opportunities, something they struggled with a fortnight ago.
Entry at Blundstone Arena will be via the Western Gate, with tickets available to be purchased via cash or card – Adults – $15, Concession – $10, U16 – $2