Launceston made their second consecutive trip down to Hobart with a different looking side to last week, thanks to five enforced changes due to injury and representative commitments, and weren’t able to come away with the points against Hobart City Demons at North Hobart Oval. The Blues eventually going down by 27 points. A good start saw Launceston go into quarter time in front, but the Demons pulled away from there and won each of the remaining three quarters.
A large part of Launceston’s quick start was down to Rulla Kelly-Mansell, who provided a dangerous option up forward and slotted two early goals. Sonny Whiting and the excellent Jay Blackberry were the other multiple goalkickers for the Blues. Elsewhere up forward Miller Hodge made his return from school football in an unfamiliar role, and showed his appetite for the contest with 9 tackles.
Jay Blackberry put in a fantastic display in the midfield, ending up with 33 disposals, 19 tackles, 7 clearances and 2 goals, to be best on ground for the Blues. Sam Lonergan is really starting to hit his stride as well this season and lead the team with 36 touches on the weekend, 28 of them contested. The coach has now racked up 70 disposals over the past two weeks. Nathan O’Donoghue helped cover the loss of injured state squad ruckman Hamish Leedham with 43 hit outs as Launceston won the clearances once again.
In some positive news on the injury front, Brodie Palfreyman and co-captain Chris Savage made successful returns to the side, collecting 22 and 13 disposals respectively. Savage played just about every position on the ground at different stages, showing off his versatility. Down back Joe Boyce and Stewart Williams provided some rebound, while key defender Simon Vandervelde clunked 8 marks and lead the team in that area along with Jake Smith whose 27 disposal effort was the fifth time this season he’s had 25 or more disposals in a game.
16 year old defender Mack Blazely made his TSL debut, coming in as a late change after initially being named as an emergency. He has shown he has the maturity required to make the step up to Senior State League level football by captaining Launceston’s Mercury Cup side on several occasions this season.
Next up the Blues will finally return to Windsor Park for their first home game for 27 days when they take on the reigning premiers Glenorchy at 2 o’clock on Saturday afternoon. After a promising start to the season the Magpies have lost three games in a row and they now sit level on points with Launceston as part of a logjam in the middle of the ladder along with Lauderdale and Hobart City Demons. A win could see Launceston move up to third as they look to stay in touch with the top two of North Launceston and Clarence, who play each other this weekend.
Hobart City Demons 14.8.92
Launceston goals: Blackberry 2, Kelly-Mansell 2, Whiting 2, Nunn, Savage, J. Smith
Launceston best: Blackberry, Savage, Boyce, Lonergan, Williams, Hodge
By Josh Giblin