With the upcoming week’s opponents Glenorchy losing their first game of the season on Saturday, Launceston’s percentage-boosting 91 point win over Tigers was enough to send them to the top of the ladder. The tone was set early with the Blues kicking five goals to one against the wind in the first quarter, before going on to win each subsequent quarter after that to run out very comfortable winners against a Tigers side who struggled against Launceston’s relentless pressure.
Mitch Thorp extended his lead in the goal kicking charts, after some inaccuracy at times earlier in the season he had no such problems on the weekend, kicking 8 goals straight in blustery conditions to take his total to 24 for the year. Jamieson House made his debut for Launceston after returning from Mariners duty and the big bustling forward impressed with his all round display. He had 19 disposals, 9 marks, 2 goals and perhaps most pleasing of all an equal team high 10 tackles playing at centre half forward and relieving Hamish Leedham in the ruck. Another coastal recruit in Giacomo Millucci also had a well earned senior debut after booting a league leading 17 goals in the first four Mercury Cup games and he acquitted himself well with 14 disposals and a goal. Other forwards to impress included Jake Smith with 21 disposals, 8 marks and a goal, and Jack Rushton with 13 disposals, 5 clearances, 9 tackles and a goal.
Jake Hinds moved back into the midfield after playing at half back last week and he continues to rack up big numbers with 35 disposals, 11 marks and 7 clearances this week all team highs. Jack Donnellan continues to excel in his new midfield role this season and put together one of his most complete games yet with 25 disposals, 6 clearances, 10 tackles and a goal. The ever consistent Jay Blackberry continues to tick along nicely and had yet another productive day with 25 disposals, while his opposite wingman Tom Sheppard is also quietly putting together a good season of his own with another 20 disposal game on the weekend, an example of his increased output this season.
The defence was once again steadfast this week, conceding only three goals including just two against a breeze where anywhere within 55 metres was within goal kicking range for most players. Dylan Riley moved back into the backline which, like with Jake Hinds’ move in the other direction, resulted in increased numbers. He had 24 disposals and 8 marks, while the other main rebounders from defence included Ryan Tyrrell with 17 disposals and 8 marks, and Chris Savage and Jimmy Aganas with 15 disposals each.
Next up is what promises to be one of the biggest tests of the season, with the Blues hosting Glenorchy who as mentioned earlier, had their first loss of the year on the weekend after an excellent start to the campaign. The last time these two sides met of course was in the elimination final last year when the Launceston ran out 28 point winners at Blundstone Arena, and it should be a finals-like atmosphere once again with a place at the top of the ladder potentially on the line.
Launceston goals: Thorp 8, House 2, Gillow, Millucci, Lonergan, Rushton, Smith, Donnellan, Rundle
Launceston best: Blackberry, Thorp, Donnellan, House, Hinds, Smith
Launceston’s Mercury Cup side continues their unbeaten start to the season and now stand alone as the last remaining undefeated side in the competition after another commanding win, this time against Tigers where they came away 126 point winners at Windsor Park. Tigers held the Blues in the first term with the conditions in their favour to trail by just 9 points at the first break but from there the floodgates opened and Launceston piled on the goals for the remainder of the game.
Sonny Whiting returned through the Mercury Cup after missing last week through injury and he doubled Tigers’ score by himself with 10 goals 6 in a performance that also included 21 disposals and 11 marks (4 contested). Anthony Liberatore also found himself out of the senior side but once again showed his ability to find the football with 34 disposals and two goals, while the other player to come back from the seniors Matt Spohn showed his versatility, playing in almost every position on the field as he collected 21 disposals, 6 marks including three contested and a goal.
Jobi Harper continues his steady progress to full fitness and saw an increased workload this week, playing three quarters and collecting 23 disposals, 6 marks (3 contested) and kicking three goals. The other multiple goal kickers for Launceston were Tom Dwyer who had 10 disposals and two goals and Tyson Miller who had 12 disposals and two goals. Jacob Boyd once again found plenty of the ball with 21 disposals, 11 marks and a goal, while back to back under 18s best and fairest Jack Tuthill had another good game with 17 disposals and 5 marks.
Aside from the aforementioned Liberatore and Harper, the rest of the inside midfield brigade were all highly productive as well. Ably supplied once again by Sam Bruinewoud who had 12 disposals and 28 hit outs, Adam Dickenson had 22 disposals and 8 tackles, Johnathan Marsden 22 disposals and 7 tackles and Bayley Neil 20 disposals, as all three continue to grow into their new midfield roles this season after all being deployed mainly in defence last year.
Next up the top of the table Blues host third placed Glenorchy, who are only a game behind having lost their first game of the season last week in a close contest against second placed Clarence. The last time these two sides met was in round 18 last season when Launceston demolished the Magpies by 99 points at KGV.
Launceston goals: Whiting 10, Harper 3, Miller 2, Liberatore 2, Dwyer 2, Oldenhof, Spohn, J. Boyd, Dickenson, Chaplin
Launceston best: Liberatore, Harper, Whiting, Oldenhof, J. Boyd, Tuthill
By Josh Giblin