Launceston bounced back from their opening round defeat and celebrated Sam Rundle’s 100th game in fine style with an imposing 131 point win over North Hobart in their first home game of the season. Much has changed for both both since Launceston pipped the then Hobart City Demons to a finals spot on percentage last season and that was in sharp focus on Saturday with the Blues’ new recruits playing starring roles against the young Demons outfit.
Chief amongst those was Mitch Thorp who booted 7 majors in a dominant display despite being double teamed throughout the game and might have reached double figures if not for a bit of inaccuracy. Jack Rushton made his debut for Launceston, with his tenacity at the contest and forward pressure a vital addition and he was rewarded for his efforts with two goals of his own. While Dylan Riley also provided real impetus to the side when he rotated through the midfield.
Jack Donnellan was excellent on his return from injury, impressing with his contested work and ball use through the midfield and also spending time in his more familiar role of recent times across half back. Joe Boyce was another standout at the back, with his intercept marking a feature, while co-captain Chris Savage marshalled the troops expertly as the backline kept the visitors goalless in three of the four quarters.
The other co-captain Hamish Leedham dominated in the ruck all day but to their credit North Hobart stuck with the Blues in the clearance battle early before weight of numbers eventually became overwhelming. Brodie Palfreyman fought through a tag well and even got forward to slot a couple of goals, while the aforementioned Donnellan, Riley and Rushton all impressed through the middle amongst others. Aside from Thorp, Palfreyman and Rushton, the other multiple goal kickers were Sonny Whiting, who opened his tally for the season with four, and Rulla Kelly-Mansell with two.
Next week the Blues will take the long trip down to Lauderdale to take on the Southern Bombers in a replay of last season’s preliminary final. The Southern Bombers have started the season 0 and 2 and will be without some key personnel. But taking on Lauderdale is never easy, especially on their home patch, and they’ll be desperate to get themselves off the mark in 2018 and not have a repeat of last year when they were playing catch up after a bad start.
North Hobart 2.4.16
Launceston goals: Thorp 7, Whiting 4, Kelly-Mansell 2, Palfreyman 2, Rushton 2, Riley, Sheppard, Smith, Gillow
Launceston best: Donnellan, Boyce, Leedham, Savage, Thorp, Rushton
The Mercury Cup side continued their unbeaten start to the season with a 76 point win over North Hobart. Mostly a very young and inexperienced side, the demographic was boosted by senior coach Sam Lonergan and new recruit Jobi Harper who both played in the first half only on their respective returns from injury. For Harper it was his first game in over 18 months and his first game overall in the navy blue and he showed some good signs with his 13 disposals and 4 tackles in under half an hour of action.
The star of the day though was undoubtedly Tyson Miller, who was superb with 33 disposals, 10 marks and a goal. His clean hands and neat ball use were a real standout as always. Giacomo Millucci continued his great start to life at Launceston as he reached double figures for the season already with 6 more goals this week to go with 20 disposals and 8 marks. Sam Bruinewoud had a productive day in the ruck with 15 disposals, 4 marks, 23 hit outs and two goals, Grant Holt collected 24 disposals and 6 marks, and Harvey Griffiths impressed off a wing with his 12 disposals. Jack Tuthill is showing he’s ready to impose himself on the Mercury Cup competition after back to back under 18s best and fairests and looked good once again with his 18 disposals.
Other major ball winners included Adam Dickenson who continued on from last week with 26 disposals, 5 marks, 6 tackles and a goal, Toby Lucas and Jordan Talbot with 15 disposals each and Mack Blazely with 14 disposals, 8 marks and a team high 8 tackles. While Zac Camplin was the other multiple goal kicker aside from Millucci and Bruinewoud with 3 goals from his 12 disposals as the Blues shared it around with ten individual goal kickers.
Next up the Blues travel south to take on Lauderdale. The Southern Bombers have suffered heavy defeats in each of their opening two games and currently sit a single percentage point ahead of cellar dwellers North Launceston. It’s still very early in the season though of course and it will be interesting to see how Launceston gets on in their first away trip of the year in the hostile environment that is Lauderdale Oval.
North Hobart 8.1.49
Launceston goals: Millucci 6, Camplin 3, Bruinewoud 2, D. Boyd, Griffiths, Catterall, Edmunds, Clark, Dickenson, Miller
Launceston best: Miller, Griffiths, Holt, Millucci, Bruinewoud, Tuthill
By Josh Giblin