Dominant North Launceston claim 2017 TSL Flag

Written by Alex FitzGerald, Anthony Osborn

North Launceston capped off the most impressive of TSL seasons on Saturday afternoon by claiming a dominant 87-point victory over Lauderdale in the 2017 Grand Final in front of over 6000 fans at UTAS Stadium.

The Northern Bombers blew away their southern counterpart in an equally disciplined and dynamic display that was built off the back of a stunning ten goal second term – earning North Launceston a third TSL flag in four seasons.

An eight-goal haul from Baldock medallist Brad Cox-Goodyer was just one of a number of stunning individual performances from the hosts as they put on a clinic to run out 21.22 (148) to 9.7 (61) over an ill-disciplined and stunned Lauderdale outfit.

Tom Bennett with a strong grab – Pic: Solstice.Digital & Photography

The atmosphere at UTAS Stadium was electric following the Mercury Cup and Wrest Point TSLW deciders and after a morning of showers, the ground was bathed in sunshine as fans of both sides found their voice and players tussled on the eve of the season’s biggest match.

The opening term had all of the hallmarks of a typically fiery grand final encounter, with both sides applying plenty of physical pressure both around the contest and off the ball. North Launceston dominated the midfield battle early, however, and put the Lauderdale defence under enormous pressure, with the opening goal of the match going the way of Cox-Goodyer from long range.

Lauderdale’s frustration as not being able to get their hand on the ball showed early, with defenders Max Kleverkamp and Josh McGuinness both uncharacteristically reported for ill-disciplined acts within minutes of each other.

North Launceston were dominant right across the ground in the opening term and should have been further in front at the main break, with clinical finishes from Mark Walsh and Jack Pearce capping off slick ball movement and handing the Northern Bombers a 3.6 (24) to 1.2 (8) lead at the first change.

North Launceston’s charge towards the cup continued in the second term, with Pearce, Walsh and Cox-Goodyer all adding second majors in the early minutes.

Lauderdale’s opening shot on goal was reversed following an off the ball Jordon Roberts hit on Louie Hollmer, an act which summed up the quarter for the southern outfit as they were blown away by a disciplined North Launceston master class.

The hosts went on to kick ten goals for the term, including three in a matter of minutes after Tarryn Thomas was put down behind play after curling through his first major. Thomas went on to kick a second as a result of the free kick before the following centre clearance resulted in Tom Couch’s first as his side edged closer to the ultimate prize.

The dominance continued as the term progressed, with the midfield brigade of Couch, Taylor Whitford, Mark Walsh and Josh Ponting guiding North Launceston to a commanding 13.10 (88) to 3.4 (22) lead at the main break.

Cox-Goodyer was on fire – Pic: Solstice.Digital & Photography

Lauderdale came out in the third term with intent, kicking three of the first four goals, but the quarter belonged to bullish midfielder Cox-Goodyer, who was playing as a permanent forward.

The competition’s answer to Dustin Martin slotted three majors for the quarter to subdue any outside chance of a comeback as North Launceston extended their lead, taking a 17.13 (115) to 6.7 (43) advantage into the final quarter of the season.

The Northern Bombers enjoyed the fourth quarter, playing with passionas the prospect of another premiership became closer and closer to reality.

Cox-Goodyer added another two majors from half a dozen shots on goal to take his tally to eight.  Ryan Wiggins slotted three late goals of his own to finish with four for the afternoon, but it was a jubilant home side who celebrated at the final siren, with the ground stormed by celebrating fans as North Launceston’s 2016 defeat was all but forgotten in the afterglow of an 87 point win.

When the game was there to be won Brad Cox-Goodyer continued his brilliant season, using his brute strength and classy skills by foot to take the game by the scruff of the neck and ensure the Northern Bombers stifled any hope of a southern Bomber resurgence.

While Cox-Goodyer rightfully won the Baldock Medal for his outstanding display he had plenty of support around the ground with Jake Pearce and Josh Ponting finding plenty of the ball, and the duo of Tom Bennett and 2018 draft prospect Tarryn Thomas providing plenty of assistance up forward.

The North Launceston defence also proved to be irresistible for much of the afternoon, with Arion Richter-Salter and Jay Lockhart leading a cohesive effort from the back six in a truly impressive team performance.

Couch racked up the touches – Pic: Solstice.Digital & Photography

North Launceston coach Tom Couch reflected post-match on achieving the team’s sole focus on winning the premiership.

“It’s a bit surreal; we’ve worked pretty hard for this moment.  You think about it every day, especially for the last ten weeks.

“It’s great and just (full) credit to the boys; they’ve worked so hard,”

Couch spoke about being welcomed into the club with open arms in his first year as coach, with the playing group all focused on avenging their 2016 loss to Glenorchy.

“To lose the Grand Final last year, you need to take that next step.  The boys were pretty fit and we changed a few things about the game plan; they all bought in and they deserve it.”

Couch himself played a sensational game in the midfield, alongside the underrated Mark Walsh and captain Taylor Whitford, with the trio ensuring they were first to the ball and delivering it with class to North Launceston’s forwards while hitting the scoreboard themselves.

Lauderdale didn’t win many one on one match ups, but young defender Mitchel Anderton and inside midfielder Nat Franklin worked tirelessly all afternoon, with forward targets Alex Hevey, Alex Hill and Ryan Wiggins also having moments of promise on a disappointing finish to the club’s most successful season in the TSL.

The Southern Bombers are likely to come under MRP scrutiny for a number of clashes, but should take plenty out of a ground-breaking season to push for a berth deep in September again in 2018.

With North Launceston now having established themselves as the most successful club in the Tasmanian State League, the question is not whether they have the ability to go back to back next year, but whether the players have the drive and motivation after claiming the ultimate prize.

If Couch’s emotional address to club supporters and the player’s post-match comments in the rooms are anything to go by, however, the bulk of the young playing group remain hungry to add more trophies to the UTAS Stadium cabinet and continue to build upon the dynasty they’ve created.

Celebrations in the rooms begin – Pic: Solstice.Digital & Photography

 

NORTH LAUNCESTON    3.6          13.10     17.13     21.22 (148)

LAUDERDALE                     1.2          3.4          6.7          9.7 (61)                

GOALS; North Launceston: Cox-Goodyer 8, Walsh 3, Pearce 2, Whitford 2, Couch 2, Thomas 2, Bennett, Simpson

Lauderdale: Wiggins 4, A Hill 2, Hevey, Kleverkamp, McManus

BEST; North Launceston: Cox_Goodyer, Walsh, Pearce, Whitford, Richter-Salter, Ponting

Lauderdale: A Hill, Hevey, Anderton, Roberts, Bellchambers, Franklin

North Launceston; 2017 Tasmanian State League Premiers – Pic: Solstice.Digital & Photography