Launceston showed that they are a team to be reckoned with in the finals series this year by ending the season of reigning premiers Glenorchy, after a 28 point victory in the elimination final at Blundstone Arena. The Southern Magpies were looking the goods 20 minutes into the second quarter when they held a 27 point lead, but the resilient Blues came roaring back into contention, kicking nine of the next ten goals to completely turn the game around and go in 26 points up at three quarter time. The Blues welcomed back some experience this week with Sam Lonergan and premiership player Jordan Harris coming back into the side, as well as key defender Jimmy Aganas, while Alec Wright, Ethan Conway and the injured Corey Sheppard made way.
There was still a lot of youth on display for the Blues however, with seven teenagers taking the field, and often times they were the ones who stood up when needed. Jake Hinds, who took a step closer to realising his AFL dream during the week with an invitation to the draft combine, continued his fine season. Once again playing a variety of roles, Hinds had 17 disposals, 4 inside 50s and two steadying last quarter goals to keep the premiers at bay. Launceston’s leading ball winner this season Jay Blackberry lead the way once again with 20 disposals, 10 tackles, 5 clearances and three goals. Brendan Taylor continues to do the grunt work and had 19 disposals, 18 contested possessions, 10 tackles, 5 clearances and a goal, and young star Brodie Palfreyman had 17 disposals and 5 clearances. Hamish Leedham won the important ruck duel against state ruckman Cameron Duffy, winning 31 hit outs to help the Blues get on top in the clearance battle.
Leading goal kicker Sonny Whiting pulled everything out of his bag of tricks on the weekend, kicking four goals including another goal of the year contender. Sam Lonergan was very effective with his 16 disposals on his return, which included 5 clearances, 5 inside 50s and a goal. Connor Smith continues to play an important role and had 13 disposals, 4 inside 50s and a goal. The youngster is third at the club for inside 50s per game this season. At the back Ryan Tyrrell often set things up and was everywhere with 18 disposals, 5 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s and a goal. Stewart Williams and Chris Savage took some important intercept marks, while Jack Donnellan (17 disposals, 6 tackles), Jimmy Aganas (17 disposals), and Casey Brown (14 disposals, 4 rebound 50s) helped rebound from the back.
This week the Blues will travel to Blundstone Arena once again, this time to take on the losers of the qualifying final in Clarence, in a do or die game for both sides on Saturday. This will be the third time the sides have met this season, with the Roos winning both previous encounters. In a change of plans the two clubs will also meet in the Mercury Cup at Blundstone Arena on Saturday, with the top of the table Blues having been stripped of the home ground advantage they earned in order to have the TSL seniors and Mercury Cup play at the same venue. The winner of the Mercury Cup clash will earn themselves a spot in the grand final, while the losers will have a second chance against the winner of Tigers vs North Launceston.
Launceston goals: Whiting 4, Blackberry 3, Hinds 2, Lonergan, Taylor, R. Tyrrell, O’Donoghue, C. Smith
Launceston best: Leedham, R. Tyrrell, Williams, Hinds, Whiting, Donnellan