Close but not quite there.
Those words have haunted the Southern Bombers in recent times, with the 2019 #BUPATSL season finishing for the peninsula club with Grand Final heartbreak once again.
Lauderdale is in the midst of a remarkable period of form, with three consecutive Grand Final appearances a sensational feat.
Lauderdale’s problem remains the same, however, with North Launceston continuing to go from strength to strength.
It is reasonable to assume that Lauderdale would be looked upon as one of modern Tasmanian football’s great teams if it wasn’t for North Launceston, with Darren Winter’s side again putting together a strong home and away campaign.
Lauderdale, unlike recent campaigns, started the year in scintillating fashion, recording five wins from its first five outings. Another five wins from the next six games followed, allowing Lauderdale the opportunity to tweak things in preparation for finals instead of scrapping their way into the five like the year before.
A form slump saw the Southern Bombers drop from top spot late in the season, but the efforts of the team to book a finals berth so early in the year should be commended.
The Bombers had a nice mix across the ground, with the addition of Sam Siggins to the midfield making the side a far more versatile and dynamic prospect.
Skipper Bryce Walsh enjoyed a strong season, while Phil Bellchambers and Nat Franklin also had good seasons with ruckman Haydn Smith taking his game to yet another level.
Recruits Edward Trupp, Alex Saunders, Sam Burge and Matt Elliott all provided plenty at times throughout the season, with Trupp playing a particularly crucial role as a key defender.
The core group of the team are well and truly in their prime, meaning the team is entrenched in its premiership window, but how it can bridge the gap that currently exists between it and North Launceston remains the pertinent question.
2nd, 23-5, 124.98%, Grand Finalist
Ben McGuinness, Alex Saunders – 17
Henry Kerinaiua – 16
Jacob Gillbee – 15
Team of the Year Representatives: 4
Edward Trupp (FB)
Josh McGuinness (HBF) – Vice Captain
Haydn Smith (RU)
Sam Siggins (INT)
Best and Fairest:
Co-captain Bryce Walsh took home the Mitch Robinson Medal as Lauderdale’s Best & Fairest, ahead of runner-up Nat Franklin who claimed the Marcus Fitze Trophy.
Edward Trupp took out the Tim Perkins Trophy as the most consistent, while Will Francis won the Craig Lorkin Rising Star Trophy, Matt Elliott won the Craig Rainbird Trophy (Coaches) and Sam Burge took out the Wes Parfrey Trophy as most improved.
Although ineligible Haydn Smith finished in fourth place overall with 14 votes, including three best-ons to be the Southern Bombers’ leading poller.
Hard-nosed midfielders Bryce Walsh and Sam Burge were next best with 10 votes each, while Sam Siggins (nine) and Phil Bellchambers (eight) also featured prominently.
RACT Insurance Player of the Year:
Haydn Smith also finished fourth overall for the RACT Insurance Player of the Year Award, again picking up 14 votes.
Bryce Walsh was just behind in equal fifth spot with 12 votes, while Sam Siggins (11 votes) and Josh McGuinness (8 votes) were also recognised by the media.
After being the team to beat for so much of the year, Lauderdale found itself limping into the finals series after three losses in a row before the round 21 bye and just one win from round 16 onward.
As a result, questions were asked as to how the Southern Bombers would fare in the cauldron of finals football, and with a disappointing Semi Final loss to North Launceston in between, Darren Winter’s side delivered heart-stopping wins in two classic #BUPATSL finals to have another crack at the ultimate prize.
The first, a Qualifying Final date with Glenorchy went down to the wire, with the pendulum of a see-sawing affair happening to be in Lauderdale’s corner when the final siren sounded.
The Bombers were herculean in a frenetic finish, kicking four goals to the Magpies’ three in the last to hold on to a six-point win and secure a Semi Final meeting with North Launceston.
The Semi Final loss to North Launceston saw Lauderdale meet Launceston in a Preliminary Final for the second time in three years.
The resulting match was a see-sawing epic, with Lauderdale bridging a 21-point deficit midway through the third quarter to have a 10-point advantage at the final change and a seven-point win after a mini-Blues fightback.
These two victories were enormously impressive, particularly given what was at stake in each game and the so-so form the Southern Bombers entered the finals series with.
Grand Final defeats would always be the lowlight of any season, with Lauderdale delivering a strong performance, but ultimately falling short on the final day of the season for a third consecutive year.
This was the closest Grand Final of the three played between the two sides, with the likes of Taylor Whitford, Brad Cox-Goodyer and Josh Ponting claiming that it was the toughest decider they’d played in.
Lauderdale had spurts of momentum throughout the clash, getting to within just nine points early in the final term after a Henry Kerinaiua goal on the three-quarter-time siren and Ben McGuinness major at the six-minute mark of the last.
However, as had happened throughout the game’s entirety, the Northern Bombers had an answer for every surge Lauderdale threw at them, finishing the game in style to inflict Lauderdale with a 29-point loss.
2019 In Three Words:
Just short again