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.