We’ve reached the half way point of the season and Launceston will go into the state game break in third place after a hard fought 30 point win against a young Devonport side who worked hard all day and didn’t allow the Blues to run away with the game, despite trailing by 35 points at half time. Launceston were able to win the midfield battle even with the two Sams, co-captain Rundle and coach Lonergan, both unavailable, thanks to a dominant display from state squad ruckman Hamish Leedham and the likes of Joe Boyce stepping in to fill the void.
It was in fact Boyce who lead the team in clearances with an impressive 9, to go along with 18 disposals and 8 tackles. Jay Blackberry continued his barnstorming form with his third consecutive game of over 30 disposals, with 8 clearances and team highs in tackles and inside 50s, to go along with his personal best of the season of 35 disposals. Another in form midfielder Brodie Palfreyman also performed well with 21 disposals and 5 clearances. Rucks Hamish Leedham and Nathan O’Donoghue controlled the hit outs to help give their midfielders first use as the Blues won the stoppages yet again.
An even spread up forward saw four multiple goalkickers in James Gillow, Jordan Harris, Rulla Kelly-Mansell and Sonny Whiting kick two goals each. Launceston were rather more wasteful than in the clinical display of last week, with some of the credit for that having to go to the pressure applied by Devonport. James Gillow has proved to be a great addition to the mix up forward, with the youngster providing another dangerous option for opposition sides to worry about along with more established threats like Whiting and Kelly-Mansell.
Down back Stewart Williams continued his seamless transition to footballing life in Tasmania with another solid display, while young defenders Simon Vandervelde and Casey Brown both showed a great ability to read the ball in the air with a dozen spoils between them. After some lapses against Hobart City Demons the defence has done well to adjust and limit the opportunities for Glenorchy and Devonport in consecutive games since, allowing just 11 and 12 scoring shots in the last two weeks respectively.
No game for Launceston this weekend due to the Tasmania vs NEAFL rep game, but following that the Blues will be on the road again on the 17th of June at West Park against Burnie. The Dockers came perilously close to just their second victory of the season on the weekend, going down by just two points against Tigers. In the previous meeting between Launceston and Burnie this season, the Blues came out on top by 62 points at Windsor Park in round two, with Sonny Whiting booting 7 goals to earn the three votes in the RACT Player of the Year voting.
Launceston goals: Gillow 2, Harris 2, Kelly-Mansell 2, Whiting 2, Blackberry, Nunn, O’Donoghue
Launceston best: Blackberry, Palfreyman, Leedham, Boyce, Williams, Vandervelde
By Josh Giblin
Mercury Cup Report
Blues take top spot
The Mercury Cup side came up against a first placed Clarence in a top of the table clash. Clarence have been the only side to defeat the Launceston Mercury Cup side in 2017 and the the boys were keen to rectify the 11 point defeat in Round 5.
The Blues started positively with inside mids Tom Cooper, Ben Killalea, Connor Smith and Luke Walsh, with ferocious tackling a stand out, dominating the clearances early, feeding our talls with good supply. Tim Auckland (14 hit outs, 6 marks, 6 tackles and 4 goals) and Ethan Conway (21 possessions, 24 hit outs and a goal) stood tall dominating the hit outs and attacking the ball strongly in the air with clean hands, giving us ascendancy early.
Off to a flyer, we managed to hold a lead of 16-22 points for a majority of the game. Grant Holt offered plenty of forward pressure laying 5 tackles along with gathering 18 possessions, making it hard for the Roos’ defense to rebound the football.
All day our defence stood strong with intercept marking a highlight. Zac Oldenof and Cam Curtis combining for 15 marks in our defensive half of the ground. Miller Hodge also chipped in well collecting 17 possessions and 4 marks across the half back line.
Joseph Bangura and Zac Griffiths made successful returns from injury, providing great leadership across the field.
With three minutes to go Jacob Boyd showed great composure, going back and slotting the sealer from the boundary line, leading us to an 11 point victory over the ladder leaders. This now puts the Mercury Cup Blues on top of the ladder with a stand alone game this week as the curtain raiser to the state game at 11am at Blundstone Arena against Hobart City Demons.
Launceston 3.6 7.6 10.9 12.12 (84)
Clarence 3.2 4.4 8.5 11.7 (73)
Goals: Auckland 4, Rice 2, Bott 2, Conway, Boyd, Marsden, Gee, Walsh
Best: Auckland, Conway, Curtis, Gr. Holt, Rice, Walsh
By Oliver Cook