Launceston secured third place on the ladder and a double chance in finals with a 9 point win over Glenorchy in what turned out to be another thriller at Windsor Park. After a tough, low scoring first half in some torrid conditions at times, the weather cleared for the second half and the game opened right up as a result. The Blues had the advantage of the breeze for the third term and blew the game wide open with a big 8 goal to 2 quarter to set up the win. Just as they did in the last encounter at this venue, Glenorchy came hard with a late fightback but just fell short.
Chayce Jones was once again a standout for Launceston, with 17 disposals, 8 clearances, 5 tackles and a thrilling contender for goal of the year where he finished off with a blind turn and a snap from the pocket after sprinting down the wing and playing a one-two with Jack Rushton. Another teenager in Jamieson House was the leading ball winner on the ground for the Blues, with 21 disposals and 8 clearances, while Jake Smith wasn’t far behind with 20 disposals, and Brendan Taylor had 18 disposals, 6 tackles and two goals.
Jobi Harper did a good job to quell the influence of Bowden, particularly with an outstanding one on one effort in a vital forward 50 ground ball late on, while also collecting 13 disposals, an equal team high 7 tackles and drifting forward to slot a couple of goals. Ryan Tyrrell had an excellent game, providing some real thrust with his 19 disposals, while Jake Hinds once again spent some time down back and had 17 disposals and a goal. Chris Savage was an impenetrable wall at times and had 12 disposals, 5 goals and 6 tackles, while Simon Vandervelde’s intercept work saw him lead the team in marks with 6.
Jack Rushton really stood up on the big stage, enjoying one of his best games for the club with 16 disposals and three goals, getting some real reward for the outstanding forward pressure that he brings every week. Miller Hodge has also excelled in that area since coming back into the side, and once again lead the team in tackles (along with Harper) with 7 to go with his 13 disposals. Launceston’s remaining multiple goal kicker was Mitch Thorp who had two goals from his 12 disposals to take his final tally for the home and away season to 62, 16 goals clear of his nearest rival in Glenorchy’s Jaye Bowden.
This week the Blues and Magpies will do it all again, this time in the qualifying final at Blundstone Arena at 3pm on Saturday. The ledger between Launceston and Glenorchy this season now stands at two to one in the Blues favour, with neither team having won away from home. The last time the two sides met at Blundstone Arena was in the elimination final last year when Launceston won by 28 points.
Launceston goals: Rushton 3, Harper 2, Taylor 2, Thorp 2, Jones, Brown, Leedham, Hinds
Launceston best: Jones, Rushton, Tyrrell, Smith, Harper, House
Mercury Cup Report
It was a bit of an historic moment for the Mercury Cup side as they defeated third placed Glenorchy by 28 points to ensure that they finished the home and away season unbeaten with an 18-0 record. Some inaccuracy from the Blues and a good last quarter from the visitors ensured that the margin wasn’t perhaps what it could have been, but both sides will be reasonably satisfied as ultimately the result wasn’t going to change either team’s position heading into finals.
Jack Donnellan once again responded to coming back from the senior side with a standout performance, leading the team with 29 disposals, 10 marks, a team high 5 tackles, and a goal. Ditto for Tom Sheppard who had 27 disposals and 10 marks. Adam Dickenson had 25 disposals, Anthony Liberatore 23 disposals and 7 marks, and Jacob Boyd collected 21 disposals and 7 marks including three contested. Blair Rubock also had a great day with 19 disposals, a team high 11 marks including three contested, and four goals.
Other major ball winners for Launceston included Jack Tuthill with 19 disposals, Jake Nunn with 18 disposals and 6 marks, Zac Oldenhof with 17 disposals and 5 marks, and Tyson Miller with 17 disposals and 7 marks including two contested. Joe Chaplin took, along with Jacob Boyd and Blair Rubock, a team high three contested marks among his 6 for the day, as well as collecting 14 disposals. Giacomo Millucci added one goal to his total to finish the home and away season in third place in the league goal kicking with 39, while Anthony Liberatore and Blair Rubock are also in the top ten.
The Blues can now enjoy the weekend off as reward for winning the minor premiership, and await the winner of the qualifying final between Clarence and Glenorchy. Launceston and the winner of Clarence v Glenorchy will play at UTAS Stadium next weekend, with the winner of that match going straight through to the grand final and the loser getting a second chance in the preliminary final.
Launceston goals: Rubock 4, Millucci, Holt, Bott, Curtis, Neil, Donnellan
Launceston best: Donnellan, Sheppard, Rubock, Chaplin, Tuthill, Nunn
By Josh Giblin