In an important game for Launceston, the Blues managed to just barely come out on top against a competitive Tigers outfit at Windsor Park to open up a four point gap over sixth placed Hobart City Demons. It was a tight game all day, with Sonny Whiting kicking the winning goal deep in the last quarter and some clutch defensive efforts from the likes of Jimmy Aganas and Casey Brown, getting the Blues over the line.
Jake Hinds returned to TSL action for the first time since representing the Allies at the National Under 18 Championships and showed great poise in the midfield, collecting an equal team high 22 disposals, while another consistent teenager Brodie Palfreyman matched him with 22 of his own. Jay Blackberry had 19 disposals, 12 tackles and two goals, and Sam Rundle and Tom Sheppard each had 19 disposals and a goal in a very even midfield performance for the Blues.
Connor Smith was swung forward this week and thrived with 17 disposals, a team high 5 inside 50s and a goal, Brendan Taylor also had 17 disposals as well as 7 tackles, and Sonny Whiting kicked two goals including the aforementioned match winner, to take his season tally to 41 and stay level with Glenorchy’s Jaye Bowden at the top of the TSL leading goal kickers.
Jimmy Aganas put in perhaps his best performance in a navy blue jumper, proving impenetrable in the big moments as he collected 15 disposals. Stewart Williams also had 15 disposals and got stuck in with 10 tackles, Ryan Tyrrell was prolific across half back with 21 disposals, while other youngsters like Casey Brown and Simon Vandervelde stood up for Launceston late when it counted as the young backline showed great poise under pressure.
The games don’t become any less important as we head into the pointy end of the season, and next up is a vitally important eight pointer against Hobart City Demons which could go a long way to deciding who makes the finals. A Launceston win would see the Blues open up an eight point gap over the Demons with a significantly better percentage which would see them grab a stranglehold on a top five position. However a win for Hobart City would bring the two sides level on points.
Launceston goals: Blackberry 2, Whiting 2, O’Donoghue, C. Smith, Rundle, T. Sheppard
Launceston best: Aganas, C. Smith, Hinds, Brown, Williams, Palfreyman
Mercury Cup Report
Top spot was up for grabs as Launceston hosted Tigers at Windsor Park and it was the Blues who remained at the summit after a 34 point win. A great start saw Launceston go in at quarter time leading 5.5 to a single behind and Tigers were never able to reduce that margin for the rest of the game in what proved to be an even contest for the rest of the day, despite the Blues being two men down following early injuries to Jordan Harris and Ethan Conway.
The midfield proved to be a great source of goals for the Blues, with Jake Smith, Miller Hodge and Tom Cooper all kicking multiple goals. Jake Smith also racked up 38 disposals and 9 marks, Miller Hodge had 26 disposals and 7 tackles, and the consistent Tom Cooper had 19 disposals and 7 tackles. They were fed by Tim Auckland who dominated in the ruck all day with 34 hit outs, as well as collecting 16 disposals and 4 contested marks.
Zac Oldenhof continued his great goal kicking form and was the Blues’ other multiple goal kicker with two, while Jacob Boyd was prolific across half forward with 22 disposals. Other major ball winners included Lachie Gee who also had 22 disposals, Zac Griffiths with 17 disposals and a goal, and Grant Holt with 17 disposals and 8 tackles, while Alec Wright and Tyson Miller were both stand outs for a stingy Launceston backline.
Next week, with Clarence having the bye, the Blues have the opportunity to give themselves a six point lead at the top of the table when they host Hobart City Demons at Windsor Park. The two previous meetings between these two sides have both been thrillers, with a three point win for Launceston in round 8 at North Hobart Oval and a draw in the curtain raiser to the state game at Blundstone Arena.
Launceston goals: Oldenhof 2, J. Smith 2, Hodge 2, Cooper 2, Griffiths, Spohn
Launceston best: Hodge, J. Smith, Wright, Cooper, Miller, Griffiths
By Josh Giblin