Launceston look to be hitting their straps as we come towards the pointy end of the season, crushing arguably the in form team of the competition in Lauderdale by 64 points on a glorious sunny day at Windsor Park. The Southern Bombers came storming out of the blocks and kicked the opening five goals of the game to open up a 31 point lead 15 minutes into the first quarter, but from there it was all Blues as the hosts completed a remarkable 95 point turnaround. The win sees Launceston leapfrog both Lauderdale and Glenorchy and move up to third place on the ladder.
Tim Auckland returned for his first game for the club this season after stints with the Mariners and most recently with the Adelaide Crows playing for their SANFL side. He shared ruck duties with Hamish Leedham and really impressed with both his tap work and follow up efforts around the ground, collecting 14 disposals. He was part of a midfield group which really got on top after the team’s poor start, with Sam Rundle leading the team with 26 disposals, 5 clearances, 5 tackles and a goal, Chayce Jones who had 24 disposals, for the second week in a row a team high in clearances with 6, 5 tackles and a goal, Brendan Taylor with 21 disposals, 7 marks and 4 clearances, Brodie Palfreyman with 20 disposals, 5 clearances and a goal, and 100 gamer Jake Smith who had 19 disposals, 6 tackles and a goal.
Rulla Kelly-Mansell has been a bit of a revelation since his move to half back, providing some real drive and attacking threat from the back half for the Blues. He was once again named best on ground for Launceston with 16 disposals and two goals. Other major ball winners from the backline included Jobi Harper with 20 disposals, an equal team high 8 marks and a goal, and Tom Mundy with 16 disposals. After the blistering start from Lauderdale, the Blues’ defence did a brilliant job to restrict them to just four goals over the course of the last three quarters, particularly in the last term with the game still relatively up for grabs when the Southern Bombers came out playing some free wheeling almost kamikaze football.
Up forward Mitch Thorp kicked three to move past the 50 goal milestone for the season, while also collecting 22 disposals. Jake Hinds also kicked three from his 10 disposals and 6 marks as he played a more advanced role this week. Dylan Riley was once again pivotal up forward as he had 21 disposals, an equal team high 8 marks, and two goals, while Joe Boyce returned to the side after being a late withdrawal last week and kicked two goals from 12 touches. The Blues showed that they have plenty of avenues to goal, with 13 individual goal kickers on the day. Every forward got on the score board, there were goals from midfield, and even a couple of defenders were able to get forward and kick goals.
This week Launceston have the bye, which could see them lose third place as quickly as they gained it with Glenorchy and Lauderdale both favourites for their respective games this weekend. In two weeks’ time the Blues will be at home once again as they host second placed Clarence. The Roos had a bit of a scare this week as they were really challenged at times by bottom side North Hobart, before eventually proving too good in their 33 point win. They’ll be on their second successive trip up the highway when they face Launceston, as this week they travel to UTAS Stadium to play North Launceston.
Launceston goals: Thorp 3, Hinds 3, Kelly-Mansell 2, Boyce 2, Riley 2, Harper, Rushton, Leedham, Jackson, Smith, Rundle, Palfreyman, Jones
Launceston best: Kelly-Mansell, Jones, Auckland, Riley, Thorp, Smith
Mercury Cup Report
The incredible season for Launceston in the Mercury Cup continues to roll on unabated, as they thumped Lauderdale by 104 points to remain without a single blemish 15 games into the season. An eight goal first term set things up, with the Blues gradually increasing their lead in each subsequent quarter to cruise away from the fifth placed Southern Bombers.
35 disposals, 7 marks and two goals seems to be pretty standard fare for Anthony Liberatore at the moment, that’s the kind of outstanding form he’s in as he proved once again that he’s a cut above at this level. Next best on the disposal front was Jared Dakin, who had 29 disposals and 5 tackles after coming back from the senior team. Jacob Boyd had 25 disposals, 9 marks and a goal, while other major ball winners included Jake Nunn with 23 disposals, 6 marks and three goals, Miller Hodge with 23 disposals, a team high 6 tackles and a goal, and Jack Tuthill with 19 disposals.
Ethan Conway had himself a day out up forward, with 19 disposals, 6 marks and 6 goals. Matt Spohn had 19 disposals, 9 marks and two goals, while the remaining multiple goal kicker was Giacomo Millucci who had 12 disposals, 6 marks and three goals as he takes his Mercury Cup tally to 35 for the season to remain in third place in the league goal kicking. Reigning best and fairest winner Bayley Neil continues to be recognised by the coaches for his excellent defensive efforts. His hardness at the contest and ability to make goal saving efforts in one on one or even outnumbered situations really impressed, while another to excel in that area was Alec Wright.
A week off for the Blues this week before they face the only side who still has a mathematical chance of knocking them off the top of the ladder in Clarence. The Roos comfortably accounted for cellar dwellers North Hobart by 51 points on the weekend and now face back to back Launceston trips with North Launceston at UTAS Stadium this week, before the big top of the table clash at Windsor Park in two weeks. Launceston remains the only side to beat Clarence in the Mercury Cup this season.
Launceston goals: Conway 6, Nunn 3, Millucci 3, Spohn 2, Liberatore 2, Brown, J. Boyd, Hodge, Curtis
Launceston best: Liberatore, Nunn, Conway, Hodge, Neil, Dakin