Launceston’s extraordinary finals series has come to an end after a third consecutive Hobart trip, this time against Lauderdale at Blundstone Arena in the preliminary final. An unchanged Blues line up jumped out of the blocks early but injury and perhaps a bit of fatigue caught up to them, and Lauderdale eventually came away 24 point winners to book their place in the grand final. The Blues can be immensely proud of their progress this season however, having come from second last, last year, to a preliminary final berth is a terrific achievement and the future looks bright with over a third of the preliminary final side being made up of teenagers.
Nathan O’Donoghue capped off an outstanding finals series with another commanding performance up forward, with 11 disposals, 6 marks and three goals. The big man was enormous in the finals series, kicking 7 goals in 3 games to lead the way for the Blues. Youngster Connor Smith had his most productive game of the season in the preliminary final, with 18 disposals, 5 inside 50s and two goals. Joe Boyce was Launceston’s other multiple goal kicker, kicking two first half goals before unfortunately going off injured in the third quarter. Sonny Whiting brought up a milestone, kicking his 50th goal of the season to wrap up his fourth Kerry Tuthill Memorial Trophy overall and his third in a row.
Jake Hinds was once again the Blues’ most prolific ball winner, with 23 disposals, 12 contested possessions, 5 marks and 5 clearances in what could be his last game for Launceston should everything go to plan at the AFL draft in November. Coach Sam Lonergan had 21 disposals and 6 tackles, the ever consistent Jay Blackberry had 21 disposals, 17 contested possessions and 8 tackles, and Brendan Taylor had 18 disposals, 12 contested possessions and 8 tackles. At the back co-captain Chris Savage was excellent with 19 disposals, 6 marks and 5 rebound 50s. Ryan Tyrrell also found plenty of it with 20 disposals, 6 marks and 6 rebound 50s, and Jimmy Aganas was great in the air, leading the team with 7 spoils.
The season isn’t quite over just yet for Launceston Football Club, as this weekend sees both the Mercury Cup and TSLW sides playing off in grand finals at UTAS Stadium on Saturday. The Mercury Cup side play Clarence at 10:10 in the morning, while the TSLW side will play Glenorchy straight afterwards at 1:15pm.
Launceston goals: O’Donoghue 3, Boyce 2, C. Smith 2, Kelly-Mansell, Whiting
Launceston best: Hinds, Lonergan, Savage, C. Smith, Aganas, O’Donoghue