At long last it was back to home comforts for the Blues as they played their first home game for 36 days, and it was also a return to the winners list as the 97 point win over North Hobart snapped their losing streak. It was a bit of a slow start for Launceston, with an inaccurate first quarter and then a competitive second term from the young Demons side seeing them go in with what was still a comfortable six goal lead. But then the Blues turned it on in the second half, kicking ten goals to one, to win by just shy of three figures on a cold and foggy day at Windsor Park.
Chayce Jones returned to play his first club game since round 7 last year after an outstanding under 18 representative season for both Tasmania and the Allies, which saw him named All Australian. The Mariners skipper continued that fine form with 26 disposals and team highs in both clearances (8) and tackles (11). Brodie Palfreyman was also excellent through the midfield with 28 disposals, 7 marks, 7 clearances and 8 tackles, while Jake Smith had 27 disposals, and Sam Rundle 19 disposals, 6 tackles and a goal, as part of a dominant inside midfield group lead by ruckman and co-captain Hamish Leedham.
Rulla Kelly-Mansell is really thriving in his new role across half back and he racked up a team high 35 disposals and also drifted forward to slot a goal. Other major ball winners across the back included Ryan Tyrrell and Jack Donnellan with 19 disposals each, and Tom Mundy with 18 as part of an extraordinarily even team display which saw no less than 19 Launceston players collect at least 15 disposals. Further up the field Jared Dakin had 19 disposals and Jake Hinds also had 19, as well as a team high 10 marks.
Mitch Thorp booted 5 goals to go with his 15 disposals and 6 marks as he continues to take a stranglehold on the Hudson Medal race, in which he’s now opened up a 14 goal lead over Glenorchy’s Jaye Bowden. Dylan Riley continues his good form in his new role at full forward and had 18 disposals, 7 marks and 3 goals. The other multiple goal kickers for the Blues were the ever consistent Jamieson House with 20 disposals, 7 tackles and two goals, and Brendan Taylor who had 22 disposals and two goals.
The Blues now sit a game behind both third placed Glenorchy and fourth placed Lauderdale, and they have a chance to potentially overtake both this weekend when they host the Southern Bombers at Windsor Park on Saturday. It will be no easy task, however, with the in form Lauderdale coming off a big 59 point win over the aforementioned Magpies. This will be the third meeting between Launceston and Lauderdale this season, with the ledger currently even at one win apiece. Both previous games were played at Lauderdale Oval, with the Blues winning the first by 62 points and the Bombers winning by 30 points in the most recent encounter.
North Hobart 4.4.28
Launceston goals: Thorp 5, Riley 3, House 2, Taylor 2, Harper, Killalea, Jackson, Kelly-Mansell, Rushton, Rundle
Launceston best: Kelly-Mansell, Jones, Palfreyman, House, Rundle, Riley
Mercury Cup Report
First versus last probably lived up to the billing a bit as the undefeated Blues recorded their 14th consecutive victory in dominant fashion with a 163 point drubbing of North Hobart at Windsor Park. The ability of Launceston to play some clean football and continue to pile on the goals in the wet conditions was impressive. A free scoring first half saw the Blues hit triple figures before half time, while in the second half they were able to keep the visitors to just a solitary point.
Anthony Liberatore continued his prolific season at this level with 35 disposals, 9 marks and two goals as one of eleven Launceston players to kick multiple goals on the day. Another consistently big ball winner in Jacob Boyd was the next most prolific with 28 disposals and 9 marks. He could have had an unbelievable day if he had his kicking boots on, as he kicked 2 goals 4. Other major ball winners included Miller Hodge with 23 disposals and two goals, Jack Tuthill with 21, and Grant Holt, Casey Brown and Harvey Griffiths with 19 each.
Across the backline Alec Wright collected 22 disposals and 6 marks, while Cam Downie had 21 disposals, 7 marks and a goal. A few players rotated through the ruck for the Blues, including Jake Nunn who had 20 disposals, 6 marks and 11 hit outs, and Ethan Conway who had 20 disposals, 6 marks, 8 hit outs and three goals. Three other players in Cam Curtis, Giacomo Millucci and Blair Rubock also kicked three goals for the Blues, with Rubock also the equal team leader in tackles with 6, along with Mack Blazely who had 15 disposals and two goals as well.
Next up Launceston hosts fifth placed Lauderdale, who are coming off a 32 point loss to Glenorchy at home on the weekend. The Blues won the two previous meetings between the two sides this season, which were both at Lauderdale Oval, by 40 and 85 points respectively.
North Hobart 3.3.21
Launceston goals: Curtis 3, Conway 3, Rubock 3, Millucci 3, Oldenhof 2, Blazely 2, Liberatore 2, Griffiths 2, Brown 2, J. Boyd 2, Hodge 2, Downie
Launceston best: Liberatore, Brown, Hodge, Holt, Curtis, Oldenhof