Round 1 – Launceston Vs. Devonport @ Devonport
An away trip to Devonport Oval is never an easy way to start the season but the Blues came through with an impressive 34 point victory, defeating Devonport 11.13.79 to 6.9.45. An even spread of contributions saw fourteen Launceston players collect over 15 disposals as the Blues dominated the possession game for most of the day, ending up with 127 more disposals than Devonport.
After being elevated to the leadership group over the summer and having to fill the shoes of the departed 2016 McAuley Medallist Joe Groenewegen in the ruck, Hamish Leedham was outstanding. Forced to play virtually a lone hand in the ruck all day after the Blues lost Nathan O’Donoghue early in the game through injury, Leedham imposed himself physically on the contest and moved well around the ground, racking up 19 disposals and giving his midfielders first use with a half century of hit outs in a best on ground display.
A great defensive effort to keep Devonport to just six goals was highlighted by the excellent contributions of debutant Alec Wright and Simon Vandervelde , who tallied up an equal team high of five spoils each. It was through the back end that the Blues controlled possession, with Ryan Tyrrell , Jake Nunn , newly appointed co-captain Chris Savage , Josef Boyce , and Wright leading the way in that area.
Coach Sam Lonergan made his long awaited return to football and looked like he’d never missed a beat as he collected an equal team high 27 disposals, 5 marks, a team high 6 clearances and a team high 17 contested possessions. But once again the theme of the day was an even spread and the midfield group was no exception, with Jay Blackberry, Jake Hinds , Sam Rundle, and Brodie Palfreyman all having very good games through the middle.
After a best on ground display for Tasmania in the under 18s against the Northern Territory last week, Chayce Jones carried that good form into the TSL with 19 disposals, 3 clearances and a team high 9 inside 50s as he showed his impressive dash and provided outside class along with fellow winger Jake Smith while also spending some time through the middle.
Up forward the manic pressure of Matthew Spohn and Corey Sheppard, who had 8 and an equal team high 12 tackles respectively, helped the Blues keep the ball locked in their forward line. Three time Kerry Tuthill Memorial Trophy winner Sonny Whiting made his return after an injury interrupted second half of last season and led the team with 3 goals. Rulla Kelly-Mansell marked his debut for the club with 17 disposals, 9 marks, 5 inside 50s and 2 goals, while Jordan Harris and Jay Blackberry were the other multiple goal kickers.
Devonport held sway in the middle in the first quarter, dominating the clearances and doing well to go in at quarter time trailing by one straight kick after going against the breeze. But Leedham’s dominance in the ruck and the Blues’ impressive midfield saw Launceston claw their way back and win the stoppage battle in each of the remaining three quarters. Despite the breeze favouring one end, Launceston managed to win every quarter on the scoreboard as well.
Next up it’s another opponent from the North West coast, as the Blues host Burnie at Windsor Park.
Launceston goals: Whiting 3, Blackberry, Harris, Kelly-Mansell 2, Spohn, Savage
Launceston best: Leedham, Blackberry, Tyrrell, Kelly-Mansell, Vandervelde, Savage
By Josh Giblin