Blues and Roos face must-win battle

By Adam Smith, The Mercury

THE proverbial eight-point match will unfold between Launceston and Clarence this weekend at Windsor Park in a contest which shapes as season defining for both clubs.

The Blues and Roos both hold a 2-5 record and are eight points from the top five, desperately needing to garner some momentum if they harbour any finals ambitions.

Launceston breathed life back into its campaign last Saturday with an 86-point thumping of Tigers, with forward Sonny Whiting hoping the performance will grow belief among the squad.

With a host of off-season additions, the 2011 premier was expected to be a top-five contender but having lost coach Sam Lonergan for the year the team had taken a little longer to gel.

“We have been there and thereabouts playing a few of the good teams, we have just lacked a couple of quarters here and there,” Whiting said.

“We haven’t really put a four-quarter performance together and we did on the weekend.

“Obviously with the Sammy Lonergan thing it ruffled a few feathers and threw a spanner in the works, but now I think the young guys have started to realise we are good.

“It is a bit of a mental thing with our young guys sometimes, if we switch on for four quarters and stay focused I think we can do anything.

“They [the Roos] are 2-5 as well, so it could set either team up for the rest of the season this weekend.”

Whiting bagged seven goals in the victory against the Tigers, moving him to second in the race for the Hudson Medal, with 22 votes.

However, the former state forward — who was overlooked for the initial squad this year — has been battling plantar fasciitis, which has impacted his ability to train during the week.

“I had it last year in the other foot and it snapped and I missed about seven or eight weeks and I haven’t had any trouble with that, but this one won’t snap at the moment.

“It’s just a management thing, the more you do on it the sorer it gets.”

Another three votes to Glenorchy’s Jaye Bowden saw him move seven clear in the player-of-the-year award, with Burnie’s Nick McKenna moving into outright second following his five-goal haul against Clarence.

Whiting’s teammate Joe Boyce will miss the clash with Clarence after accepting a one-match ban for striking Aidan Webster.

North Launceston’s Stephen Heppell will also be sidelined for Round 9 after he accepted one match for a rough conduct charge against Glenorchy’s Matthew Rainbird.

Clarence midfield Gabby Chambers escaped with a reprimand for making contact with an umpire.

Siggins in push to leave Lauderdale

By Adam Smith, The Mercury

LAUDERDALE will meet with prized off-season signing Sam Siggins today after the former Adelaide-listed defender asked for a clearance from the club.

Tensions have been simmering between Siggins and coach Darren Winter for several weeks and escalated across the weekend following a TV interview Winter gave prior to the Bombers’ TSL victory over Hobart City on Friday night.

Siggins missed the loss to Burnie three weeks ago with what the club described as an ankle injury, and was again absent on Friday night against the Demons.

Winter told Southern Cross the key utility, by mutual agreement, would take a break from footy to deal with personal issues.

The 22-year-old opened up to the Mercury late last year about his battle with depression, which haunted his final year in the AFL system and led to him returning home to be closer to friends and family.

He returned to the Bombers – his junior club from which he was drafted by the Crows in 2012 – but is understood to have struggled under Winter in the first third of the State League season.

“I’m disappointed that I wasn’t told that the coach was commenting about my future on TV,” Siggins told the Mercury last night via a brief statement.

“It’s disrespectful to myself and my family.

“I hadn’t made a decision on my playing future and was very disappointed with what was aired on Friday night.”

Siggins declined to comment when asked on his future in the TSL, and the Mercuryunderstands he will enlist the help of AFL Tasmania and the AFL Players Association to gain clearance if needed.

Bombers president Julie Kay said she was unaware of any application from Siggins to leave the club, but will sit down with him today in an effort to sort any differences.

“We need to get everything cleared up about what the problem is – we just don’t know,” Kay said. “We keep hearing bits and pieces.”

Clarence no match for the depleted Dockers

By Camron Slessor, The Advocate

Burnie coach Clint Proctor has described the Dockers recent win over Clarence as one of the best he had been a part of.

The Dockers went into their State League match against Clarence with a number of their key personnel out of the side but still came home with a 32-point win.

Nick McKenna continued his good form with another five goals for the away side while Kyle Harman and Kallum Kubicki kicked three goals each.

Andrew Lee also chimed in for two goals.

Trent Standen booted four goals for the Roos while Ian Callinan and Matthew Drury finished with three each.

The Dockers started well with six goals to two in the opening term before Clarence came back at them in the second term.

The Dockers could only muster one goal in the second quarter while Clarence booted four to be within four points going into the main break.

The ladder leaders slowly got on top in the third term, booting four goals to three before turning it up in the last.

The Dockers kicked seven final quarter goals to Clarence’s three to give the away side a 18.13 (121) to 12.17 (89) win.

Clint Riley was best on ground in the winning side while Jobi Harper, Harry Walters and Tyrone Morrison joined goal kickers McKenna and Harman in the best players list.

Proctor said to run away with the game like they did showed they had plenty of depth this season.

“That was our eighth match in a row so to be able to run away with it like we did was really pleasing,” Proctor said.

“It’s a real credit to our conditioning and fitness team that we have our players in such good condition.”

With plenty of star players missing, Proctor said their young Dockers stood up on Saturday, including the two Dockers debutants Joel Poke and Ethan Jackson.

“They were both really good, I thought they were outstanding with their willingness to compete and play their role.

“We weren’t expecting too much from them but they played their part and had an impact.”

Not only did the two juniors impress, but Proctor said players with little State League experience had also stood up in the win.

“With seven of our top 11 or 12 players out I thought we were really up against it,” he said.

“With Jameson Foreman back from a knee injury, Emmitt Smith has only played a few state league games and that’s the same for the Mitchell brothers.

“I think we had about 14 players under 23 so that’s great for the future of our club.

“That was our best win for the season so far and probably the best win in my time with the club.”

North falls to Glenorchy in GF rematch

By Phil Edwards, The Examiner

GLENORCHY gained some revenge for last season’s grand final loss to North Launceston after handing the reigning TSL premier a 23-point defeat in their game under lights at KGV on Saturday.

The Northern Bombers led by 15 points after having the better of the Magpies in the first half, kicking 5.1 to 2.4.

But they failed to go on with in the second half being held goalless while Glenorchy banged on 6.8 to run out comfortable winners 8.12 (60) to 5.7 (37).

“We weren’t smart with the way we played the second half of football,” North Launceston coach Zane Littlejohn said.

“We had structures put in place but we didn’t execute them the way we needed to execute them and Glenorchy to their credit were too good.”

With a strong breeze blowing to one end of KGV he said his side adjusted well to the conditions of the game in the first half but made silly mistakes in the second and failed to play the way they wanted to play.

“We have to learn from this now – you get down about losses but you have to go away and learn from them as a playing group and football department and look at areas we can improve on and make sure we don’t put out the same kind of performance we put out today.”

Littlejohn said their performance was frustrating after three good wins and he did not believe his players were mentally engaged in the game or learning throughout it.

“We are trying to create guys that will learn and adapt to conditions without needing instruction.

“We want 22 coaches effectively playing the game and we just didn’t have that today and that was the most disappointing thing.”

North managed only six behinds from opportunities in the second half going forward.

“We weren’t smart with how we used it inside 50 and again we weren’t good enough with our execution in front of goal and Glenorchy were better at the other end.

“We were really patchy with players good for three or four minutes here and then going out of the game and not consistent so to find a good player was tough.

“I thought Will Loone worked hard as a small forward but didn’t hit the scoreboard enough but he has been working hard in that role and I thought he was pretty good for us today but outside of that we struggled.”

Brad Cox-Goodyer kicked two goals for North as did Jaye Bowden for the Pies with Jordan Arnold named their best player.

Blues dominate Tigers for second TSL win

By Phil Edwards, The Examiner

LAUNCESTON grabbed their second win of the TSL season in emphatic fashion with a commanding 86-point victory over the Tigers at Twin Ovals on Saturday.

The Blues benefitted from accurate kicking managing 8.1 for the first term compared to the inaccurate Tigers who kicked 2.5 and continued on from their good start to control the game and run out easy winners 24.5 (149) to 8.15 (63).

Co-captain Sonny Whiting bagged seven goals for the game and Jay Blackberry six with Michael Musicka, Joe Groenewegen and Matthew Spohn kicking two each.

Blues coach Chris Hills praised Spohn’s game across half-forward nominating him as their best player with Corey Sheppard, Whiting, Blackberry, Brendan Taylor and Hamish Leedham rounding out their top six.

“I was happy with the way we went about it because we kept the intensity up,” Hills said.

“Same as last week we just had that pressure on at all times.

“Our first quarter was exceptional – we only had two more scoring shots but the pressure we put them under forced them to miss goals and that set up the rest of the game.

“We continued that on – we had patches where we went away from things but for the majority of it we stuck to what we wanted to do which was good for a change.”

Hils said their kicking for goals was a lot more accurate than it had been and they gave themselves time to have proper shots at goal.

“We are starting to gel together better but we can’t rest on this and have to take the same approach for the rest of the season.”

Rookies rated highly by Dockers coach

By Brad Cole, The Advocate

A solid dose of senior football experience with Circular Head should hold Burnie rookies Joel Poke and Ethan Jackson in good stead, according to coach Clinton Proctor.

Poke, 16, and Jackson, 15, will come off the Dockers rookie list to make their debuts against Clarence at Blundstone Arena on Saturday.

Proctor has been forced to delve deep into the team’s reserves following injuries to four players in the win over Launceston.

With the duo playing consistent football for the Giants in the NWFL, Proctor said they have the necessary talent to contribute and be future players at the club.

“They did most of the pre-season with us and are both in the Under 16 Mariners squad,” he said.

“Joel can play in the midfield or up forward and is a really good contested player with good tackle pressure.

“Ethan’s got all the skills and attributes of a quality player – he’s very athletic and agile and has a massive upside to him.

“They’ve been playing a role for the Giants in their senior team and we expect them to do the same on Saturday, whether it is up forward or on the wing.

“It will be good for them to say that they have at least been given a taste of it and hopefully next year they can continue on with their pathway to the Mariners and in the TSL with Burnie.”

Along with the fresh faces, Proctor is also looking forward to having forward Brandon Howard back in the team after some impressive games for Ulverstone in the NWFL.

“I’ve spoken to Justin Rodman about him and he is in rare form at the moment,” Proctor said.

“We’ll give him every chance down the forward line with Binga (Andrew Lee) and Macca (Nick McKenna) and try to stretch Clarence a bit.”

After the clash with the Roos, Burnie enjoy a much-needed bye before resuming with critical games against Devonport and Glenorchy.

Proctor is glad the break is coming sooner rather than later, with seven regular players currently missing.

“We’ve been carrying some blokes for a couple of weeks now and it has got to the stage where they are about to snap,” Proctor said.

“Then we had Thomas Mundy pull out with gastro this week – it seems to get worse everyday.

“You can’t do much about the soft tissue injuries, but by the time of our next game hopefully we should have (Romain) Grenville and (Zane) Murphy back along with a few others.

“We’ve been doing well to hang on and keep winning –  people have been saying to me Launceston got close but I was just happy to win.”

Under-pressure Pies reject hoodoo claim

By Adam Smith, The Mercury

IT has been more than four years since Glenorchy defeated North Launceston in the TSL, but Pies coach Aaron Cornelius doesn’t see recent history as a hoodoo.

Not yet anyway.

Last year’s grand finalists will square off at KGV tonight for the first time since last year’s epic decider, where the Bombers claimed back-to-back premierships with a thrilling 12-point win.

The victory was North’s fourth consecutive win against their southern foes – it also emerged with a nailbiting two point result in Round 16 – with Glenorchy’s last triumph in Round 4, 2012.

However while he holds a personal 0-3 record against opposite number Zane Littlejohn, Cornelius is not concerned, although that could change should the Bombers make it two successful trips south in a fortnight after they belted the Tigers at Twin Ovals last Saturday.

“If we get to the end of Saturday night and we are in the same position we are now, it is certainly something we have to look at because we play them later on again,” Cornelius said “It is a big game for us.

“You look at the grand final week, [Daniel] Roozendaal missed out and they came out and played the way they did.

“I think they do like that tag, being written off, but we are certainly not doing that.

“Just because we are at home doesn’t mean a big difference. They are a very good side, a very professional side and certainly the benchmark in our eyes.

“It [last year’s grand final] was the first losing one I’ve ever been involved in, it still hurts now.”

Under Cornelius the Magpies have turned KGV into a fortress, with their last loss coming in Round 16, 2014 – to North Launceston.

Despite the extra build-up and hype around the grand final rematch, Littlejohn is treating the contest as simply another roster game.

“Four points is up for grabs on the road.”

The clash will also be Glenorchy’s annual Red Shield Appeal affair, with spectators able to donate. Two other matches will unfold in southern Tasmania today, with Clarence hosting Burnie and the Tigers meeting Launceston at Twin Ovals.

The Roos will take plenty of confidence from their nine goal flogging of Lauderdale last weekend, but ladder leader Burnie presents a completely different challenge.

Fresh from their worst loss since their inaugural year in 2014, Tigers will be hoping for a much improved showing against the Blues, who are also languishing at the bottom with a 1-5 record.

Bombers struggle but break losing streak

By Adam Smith, The Mercury

LAUDERDALE has broken a two-game TSL skid with a nail­biting victory against Hobart City but the performance did nothing to suggest the Bombers are legitimate premiership contenders.

Coming off consecutive thumpings from Burnie and Clarence, Lauderdale had to dig deep to hold off a gallant Hobart City outfit, who simply refused to wilt when put to the sword at North Hobart Oval.

Twice the Bombers pulled three goals ahead in the second half, only for the Demons to peg the margin back but the visitors eventually prevailed 13.6 (84) to 12.10 (82).

With skipper Michael Cassidy again blanketed – this time by Demons coach Kane Richter – it was left to the fleet-footed Bombers brigade to hit the scoreboard, with Weston Tate-Turvey kicking three goals and Daniel Blazely, Phil Bellchambers and Bryce Walsh all chiming in with two.

And while relieved to have bagged the four points, Lauderdale coach Darren Winter was well aware his side had slipped well behind Burnie, North Launceston and Glenorchy despite knocking off both of last year’s grand finalists earlier in the season.

“We got four points, we are pretty happy with that. It certainly could have gone the other way,” Winter said.

“We went into the game with expectations of being confident to win, but it is certainly good to get the win ­because we have been down for two weeks.

“There is no doubt we are way off the top sides.

“We need to refocus on how we want to play.

“We have a lot of work to do to get back to playing good footy.”

Jake Briggs and Blake Grant both kicked three goals for the home side, while debutant and former state cricket rookie Sean Willis kicked two in a promising showing.

A gutted Richter could not fault the effort of his troops, but was left ruing a slight lack of polish in the ­important ­moments, which ultimately proved the difference.

“As a group we are improving each week but we want more, the group wants more,” he said.

“It is [gut wrenching] ­because we challenged them and all it is is a little bit of polish, a little bit of decision making under pressure in tight contests.

“We moved the ball reasonably well from one end to the other in trying conditions, our leg speed looked good and I think we won the clearances.”

Dockers depth to be tested

By Brad Cole, The Advocate

State League leaders Burnie are about to receive their biggest test yet, with four big-name players ruled out of Saturday’s game against Clarence.

Coach Clinton Proctor was already resigned to losing team mainstays Darren Banham (groin), Nick Walters (hamstring) and Claye Hardy (knee) after a torrid encounter with Launceston last week.

His side took another hit with midfielder Zac Smith also ruled out at training.

It leaves the Dockers without four players who all get plenty of the ball through the course of a game.

Proctor and his match committee have had to raid the NWFL ranks for replacements, with the sparkling form of Ulverstone’s Brandon Howard over the past few rounds earning the forward a recall.

After being overlooked for the Tassie Mariners team, Thomas Mundy also returns for the Dockers, while Jameson Forman looks certain to play after not being included in the club’s NWFL team.

Also included on an extended interchange bench is Circular Head Giants youngster Joel Poke, along with Burnie NWFL players Aaron Butler, Nicholas Jago and Jaidyn Cox.

Clarence enter the game after an impressive 54-point demolition of Eastern Shore rivals Lauderdale last week.

Coach Trent Bartlett has had the rare opportunity of only adding to his team so far at selection, with forward Jason Bailey the only confirmed inclusion, while Cooper Leek, Zac Buechner and Jarrod Fisher come onto the bench.

Hobart City and Lauderdale start the round under lights at North Hobart Oval on Friday night, with both teams coming off losses last week.

The Tigers and Launceston meet at the Twin Ovals with both teams keen to reignite their faltering seasons.

Glenorchy host North Launceston in the grand final replay, with the Magpies coming off the bye and the Bombers are looking ominous again after a 101-point win last week.

MEANWHILE the Tassie Mariners will make up to eight changes for its second game of the Under 18 National Championships at Blundstone Arena on Saturday

Burnie’s Thomas Mundy and Devonport’s Ethan Stephenson have both been dropped, leaving no North-West players in the team that will face Division 2 favourites NSW/ACT.

McIntee makes senior debut

By Phil Edwards, The Examiner

LAUNCESTON field umpire Tomas McIntee will make his senior TSL debut on Saturday in the Tigers versus Launceston match at Kingborough.

The 18-year-old, health and physical education university student has been umpiring for four years, starting off as a boundary umpire before making the transition to field umpiring in the past two.

“One of my mates did umpiring and asked me if I would like to do it and I went along to training and have been doing it ever since,” McIntee said. “I started as a boundary umpire and I love it. You make lots of friends and just enjoying being around the other guys.

“Making the switch to field umpiring was a little bit hard to start with but I found I enjoyed field umpiring more than boundary umpiring.”

McIntee has umpired games in the State League Development League and in NTFA division 1 and 2 games, but was looking forward to stepping up to TSL senior level for the first time.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity and plan to continue as long as I can – umpiring at AFL level one day would be the ultimate goal, but at the moment I am happy doing senior games,” he said.