Launceston continued their unbeaten start to the season as the Blues ended up running out comfortable 62 point winners over Burnie, 17.14 (116) to 8.6 (54) at Windsor Park. The young Dockers put in a great effort early to take a one point lead into quarter time, but six unanswered goals in the second quarter put Launceston in control going into half time and the Blues didn’t look back from there in their first home game of the season.
It was a drizzly yet warm day at Windsor Park but despite the potentially slippery conditions the Blues’ slick ball movement and clean handling was a feature. A first home game since 2004 for coach Sam Lonergan, home debuts for Alec Wright and Rulla Kelly-Mansell, and full debuts for Matt Hutchinson and Stewart Williams, who made the switch from Lindisfarne and Wodonga Raiders respectively in the offseason, marked the occasion.
Sonny Whiting booted seven goals in a commanding display up forward and has already reached double figures this season. Rulla Kelly-Mansell continued an impressive start to his Launceston career, dragging down a dozen marks and once again kicking two goals. After a manic defensive effort last week, Corey Sheppard showed his range with a great attacking display as the other multiple goalkicker while also racking up 29 disposals.
Last season’s top possession getter Jake Smith led the way for the midfield with 31 disposals, and Sam Rundle, Brodie Palfreyman and Jay Blackberry were also stand outs through the middle. But once again the theme of the week was an even spread of contributors, with twelve Launceston players collected 20+ disposals. For the second week in a row the Blues also won the stoppage battle despite the Burnie rucks competing well.
Defenders Matt Hutchinson and Stewart Williams both enjoyed good debuts for the club, collecting 50 touches and 22 marks between them as once again the Blues enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, while Jack Donnellan also provided excellent drive out of the backline. After leading the team with five spoils last week, key defender Simon Vandervelde doubled his efforts for a very impressive ten spoils this week as he denied Burnie’s forwards time and time again.
Next up is another home game, the highly anticipated Good Friday clash against arch rivals North Launceston at 1pm at Windsor Park. Both sides are undefeated so it should be a cracking game and a great test for the Blues against one of last year’s grand finalists.
Launceston 17.14 (116)
Burnie 8.6 (54)
Launceston goals: Whiting 7, Kelly-Mansell, C. Sheppard 2, Blackberry, Griffiths, Lonergan, Palfreyman, Rundle, Spohn
Launceston best: J. Smith, Donnellan, Rundle, Whiting, C. Sheppard, Kelly-Mansell