Flag success finally for Mott and Reynolds

By Brad Cole, The Advocate

The road to premiership glory has been a long and painful one for former North-West Coast pair Rhys Mott and Ben Reynolds.

Between the two of them there had been seven failed attempts, all of which were in black and white jumpers.

Reynolds went through the agony of Devonport’s three consecutive NWFL grand final losses from 2004-2006, with Mott joining him for the TSL disappointment in 2010 and Glenorchy’s shock loss to North Launceston last year.

But after the Magpies atoned for last season’s result with 20-point win on Saturday, the relief on both their faces was plain for all to see.

“It’s been a long time coming, so it’s a pretty special moment,” Reynolds said after the game.

“I was surprised the final quarter was so short – I thought there was still a couple more minutes to go –  so when that final siren went I was pretty relieved.”

“When it got to that 26-minute mark, I was hoping the siren would go and go and go, but what an unreal feeling at the moment” Mott added.

After another outstanding season, which saw him named captain in the TSL’s team of the year, Reynolds almost made it a perfect year with a runner-up finish behind teammate Clinton French in the voting for the Darrel Baldock medal for best afield in the grand final.

With North Launceston bombing the ball regularly into its forward line, Reynolds dominated in the air to repel the attacks and send his team forward.

“I just wanted to defend well and back myself that if the ball was in the air I could mark it,” Reynolds said.

“The way the game panned out it probably played into my hands.”

Mott had a quiet first half as both teams found goals hard to come by, but worked his way into the game in the second half as Glenorchy made their move.

He believed the semi-final loss to the Bombers a fortnight earlier had helped his team in the long run.

“The result in the semi-final was probably the best thing that happened to us in the end,” Mott said.

“It sharpened us up a bit because we were undisciplined, but today we done everything right and we know when we play our best footy we’re the best team.”

There was no fairytale finish however for outgoing North Launceston coach Zane Littlejohn as he prepares for his new role with the Brisbane Lions.

“That’s the beauty about sport – it can be a killer or you can write some fairytales at times,” Littlejohn said.

“I said when I got the job that I wanted to leave it (the club) in a better place that I found it and I hope I have done that –  it would have been nice to have won a a premiership today but unfortunately that wasn’t the result.”

Moving on

By Phil Edwards, The Examiner

Zane Littlejohn will head to Brisbane to take up his new AFL development coaching role by early November.

Littlejohn was able to secure the position with the help of contacts at the AFL Coaches Association and flew to Brisbane for talks after the Northern Bombers round 19 clash against Launceston in early August.

“Greg Hutchinson passed my name on to Brisbane and from there I got a phone call from Justin Leppitsch and Matty Francis and before I knew it I was up there having a meeting two weeks later and was offered a position,” he said.

Littlejohn has signed a three-year contract with the football club independent of who the new Lions coach will be.

“I love to continue to learn and challenge myself and others to step outside our comfort zones and this is a new challenge for myself and my family.

“It is something we are really excited about and have worked hard for and it was always a goal of mine to try to get into the AFL system.”

Littlejohn said his role could change depending on the new coach but expects to be a skill development coach working with first-year players and getting them ready to play AFL football. On match days he will work with their reserves side in the NEAFL competition.

“It is about continuing to challenge myself and learn and get inside the four walls of the Brisbane Lions and what comes after my three years I don’t know – I just want to sink my teeth in and leave my mark there in a positive way.

“I want to be a listener and obviously try to provide something for them and leave a bit of myself with that footy club regardless of whether I do three years,10 years or 20 years.

“Let’s hope it can lead to something else – I would love to one day be in the Brendon Bolton situation but there is a lot of water to go under the bridge before any of that happens so I just want to focus on doing my role really well.”

Littlejohn said the Lions started pre-season training on November 7, which was when his contract started but it would ultimately depend on whoever was appointed senior coach when he wanted his staff in place.

He said he was proud of what he had been able to achieve as North Launceston coach – a club with a proud 120-year history.

“I am indebted to the club being senior coach for five years and having been here nine years all up which is nearly a third of my life. I owe them more than they owe me after giving me the opportunity to coach.

“If I could choose a club to bring my boy through to play his footy it would definitely be at this footy club.”

Littlejohn and wife Kat met at the club and are expecting their second child at the end of October, a sister for two-year-old son Boyd.

Baldock Medal to Clinton French

By Phil Edwards, The Examiner

Glenorchy’s Clinton French capped off a dream day claiming a premiership medal and the Darrel Baldock Medal as best on ground in the grand final for his four-goal effort in a low-scoring game.

“It was fantastic that we got over the line after the disappointment of last year but we got the chocolates and that is all that matters and it will be a big couple of days – we all worked pretty hard for this,” French said.

“I went up to Benny (Reynolds) and said it was him or me for the medal and we should have cut it in half or whatever and he was fantastic and everyone was fantastic and they all played a role.”

French was the only multiple goalkicker of the grand final kicking one in the first quarter, two in the third and one in the last.

Teammate Ben Reynolds was unlucky not to take home the Baldock Medal after an outstanding game in defence with French pipping him by just one vote.

Magpies gain flag revenge

By Phil Edwards, The Examiner

Glenorchy are the 2016 State League premiers after dethroning dual reigning premier North Launceston by 20 points in a low-scoring and high pressure grand final at Aurora Stadium.

In a tight arm-wrestle the Magpies led by four points at quarter time and the Northern Bombers by six at half-time with both teams managing only three goals apiece for the first half.

But the third term lived up to its reputation as the premiership quarter with Glenorchy grabbing the momentum in the game and banging on five goals to one to take a 20-point lead at the final change.

No one would ever write North Launceston off under coach Zane Littlejohn but with only one goal apiece kicked in the final quarter the Northern Bombers were unable to find the goals they needed to stage a fightback eventually surrendering the premiership cup in a 9.6 (60) to 5.10 (40) defeat.

The Southern Magpies were the better team in the second half kicking six goals to North’s two and deserved their grand final victory and their revenge for an eight-point loss in the 2015 decider.

It was Glenorchy’s first flag since 2008 in the SFL and broke a 17-year statewide drought with their last premiership coming in 1999.

Clinton French kicked four goals in a best on ground performance to claim the Darrel Baldock Medal just pipping teammate Ben Reynolds who was outstanding in defence all day.

The Pies had more contributors when it counted with Mitch Rainbird, Brayden Webb, Jaye Bowden, Tom Cleary and Mitch Hills other good players.

“North Launceston missed a few opportunities which kept us in the game and we hadn’t played our brand of footy and we spoke about it at half-time not having any passengers and guys attacking their tackles and they certainly lifted in the second half,” Glenorchy coach Aaron Cornelius said.

“French was fantastic and Benny Reynolds was tremendous and I thought Benny and Jaye kept us in the game – in the end I knew it would take 22 players to beat North Launceston and I think that certainly happened in the second half.”

North Launceston captain Taylor Whitford led from the front and was outstanding for North with Tarryn Thomas and defenders Jay Foon and Corey Nankervis other good players.

“Same amount of scoring shots but probably early in the game we didn’t capitalise on opportunities and put the score on the board,” Littlejohn said.

“Our effort and intensity at the contest early was good but we didn’t grab it went we needed to grab it and didn’t have enough contributors in the second half to be able to get the game.”

TSL grand final provides day of family fun

By Holly Monery, The Examiner

Thousands of Tasmanians turned out to support the Northern Bombers as they took on Glenorchy in the TSL grand final on Saturday.

North Launceston were hungry for more premiership success as they sought a historic three-peat of TSL flags.

Splashes of red and black were littered through crowd, while a number of supporters took the chance to get their faces painted in their footy colours.

Pies and hot chips were the order of the day for many spectators, as the RACT stand at Aurora Stadium began to fill an hour before kick off.

Enjoying a bit of fun on the ground before the game were brothers Dylan and Bailey Wells, and their cousins Callum and Declan Perry.

“We came out to support North Launceston in the statewide grand final,” said 19-year-old Dylan.

“It will be close but hopefully North win, we’ll wait and see.”

He said it was not common for the family to watch the state league, as they tended to watch the AFL, but it was a good chance to get out together and bond.

“I don’t know about teaching them a few things, but we like to get out and have a kick. They enjoy it and enjoy the exercise,” he said.

Robbie Goymour, of Ravenswood, took youngsters Brodie Goymour, 7, and Brock Johnston, 8, to the final.

He said their PE teacher used to play for the Northern Bombers and the boys loved to join the supporters.

“We watched them the last two years, so we thought we would come and watch them again this year,” Mr Goymour said.

He said the boys both played AusKick and wanted to join the Northern Bombers. “It’s good for them to run around, exercise and burn off energy and they love the game so it’s good for them to come out and enjoy it,” Mr Goymour said.

But despite the strong support it was a heartbreaking end for North Launceston fans as Glenorchy won their first TSL premiership since 1999 and their first in the new state league format.

The final score for the game was Glenorchy 9.6 (60) to North Launceston 5.10 (40).

Bowden streets ahead as TSL’s best

By Simeon Thomas-Wilson, The Mercury

GLENORCHY star Jaye Bowden’s dominant season has seen him win his third Alastair Lynch Medal in comprehensive fashion.

Already the first player in the TSL to win multiple best and fairest medals, Bowden polled 33 votes to add to his 2012 and 2015 crowns.

Also the Hudson Medallist as this season’s top goalkicker and the media’s player of the year, Bowden was judged best on ground by officials this year an incredible nine times.

He finished 13 votes clear of North Launceston’s Taylor Whitford, who wasn’t even on the leaderboard until round 11.

Five best afield performances in the last 10 rounds helped Whitford to second place with Devonport’s Dylan Riley third with 18 votes.

Burnie’s Zane Murphy – who was ineligible after being suspended this season – finished fourth with 17 votes.

TSL’S TOP EIGHT:

Jaye Bowden (Glenorchy) 33 votes

Taylor Whitford (North Launceston) 20

Dylan Riley (Devonport) 18

Zane Murphy (Burnie) 17

Rhys Mott (Glenorchy) 16

Brad Cox-Goodyear (North Launceston) 15

Jobi Harper (Burnie) 14

Sam Rundle (Launceston) 13

Pies run over the top of Bombers

By James Bresnehan, The Mercury

GLENORCHY broke a 17-year premiership drought at the highest level by snuffing out North Launceston’s attempt to win three on the trot in the TSL grand final at Aurora Stadium today.

After a tough first half, the Magpies broke the shackles with a super second half to take their first statewide flag since 1999, beating the Bombers 9.6 (60) to 5.10 (40) in front of 6128 fans.

North Launceston was restricted to three goals after quarter-time while the Pies added six, emphasising the brilliance of Glenorchy’s backline led by Ben Reynolds and Jordy Hayden, with Tom Cleary, Tim Butterworth, and the Arnold brothers Jordy and Josh playing critical supporting roles.

Glenorchy won back-to-back premierships in the Southern Premier League in 2007 and 2008, but this was its first state flag since the penultimate year of the previous statewide competition.

The tempo was frenetic in the opening term.

Glenorchy supporters did not have to wait long for something to cheer about when Jaye Bowden kicked the first goal after 1 min 16s – a round-the-corner special from a set shot on the boundary.

The Pies dominated the first 10 minutes until North Launceston started hitting targets by hand and foot.

The most dangerous Bomber was Stephen Witkowski, who kicked 1.2 and put another out of bounds.

The Magpies finished the quarter with two goals, including one to Tyler Bowden after the siren, to lead 18-14 at the first change.

The second quarter was as dour as a grand final can be, with both sides choking each other’s run, and goals were worth their weight in gold.

Glenorchy did not add to its quarter-time score, with few meaningful inside 50s and on the two occasions they could have scrounged a score the Bomber backs turned them away.

It was similar at the other end although Glenorchy’s back six was under more pressure.

North scored 1.4 for the term, its only major coming off the boot of Josh Ponting, who snapped a beauty entering time-on.

Glenorchy shut the door on most attacking moves by North in the third quarter while regularly penetrating their own forward 50m.

French proved dangerous in the third, kicking two goals, while skipper Brayden Webb came into the game along with Matthew Dilger.

Bombers skipper Taylor Whitford worked hard to keep his team in touch with 10 possessions for the third quarter but Glenorchy’s workrate yielded 16 inside 50s to 10, giving French, Daniel Muir, Mitch Rainbird and Jordy Hayden opportunities to goal.

Glenorchy suffocated every attempt by North to get back into the game in the final term and coasted to a 20-point win.

Chasing an historic three-peat of flags

By Phil Edwards, The Examiner

North Launceston coach Zane Littlejohn said his club was still hungry for more premiership success as they seek a historic three-peat of TSL flags against Glenorchy.

“We’re comfortable in our skins and not satisfied by any means – but is the pressure on us?” he said.

“I don’t know if it is – obviously we’d love to win another premiership that would be fantastic but we’re comfortable with what we can do – we understand it is going to be bloody hard and we are going to need 22 players to do it and if we don’t have that the result might not go our way.

“But we believe in the program and the things we have in place and we believe in the playing group we put out there to go to battle so it is going to be a real good challenge for us.”

Littlejohn said the Bombers could take plenty from their second semi-final victory over the Magpies a fortnight ago.

“We still have a lot of areas of our game we can improve in – in the third quarter we didn’t defend overly well and let Glenorchy get a bit of a run on and play their chip and catch fast brand of footy.

“We’ve worked on that a bit and making sure our players know how to defend that and what we need to do in that circumstance – but were down at three-quarter time which people forget after a shocking third quarter and the resilience of our playing group and the 22, who will run out again, was pretty pleasing.”

He said finals football had to be about collective defence and collective offence and they like to grow off the back off their defence.

“We are probably playing the best defensive side in the competition this weekend so it will be a huge effort to try to out defend them and make sure we get the game on our terms.

“We really want to be a hard team to play against – the playing group pride themselves on it and are driving it.

“We need to win the ball at ground level and get the ball in our hands and try and make them defend – if we don’t they have Mott, Joseph, Bowden and Webb and the list goes on of players who will hurt you going the other way big time.”

Littlejohn said the feeling in their playing group had been interesting in the lead-up and his focus was squarely on leading his club to another premiership.

“We have a core group who have played in them before and a group that have been in two and are going for their third and that group has been quite composed which has been pleasing.

“I have said to them it is OK to be nervous but don’t get that mixed up with being excited because they are only human and we sometimes forget that footballers have the same feelings and emotions as the rest of us. We’re allowed to be excited and enjoy it and it is starting to build up leading into Saturday.”

Elite club

By Phil Edwards, The Examiner

Playing in a third-straight State League grand final on Saturday is an achievement of which only six members of North Launceston’s grand final side can boast.

Lochlan Young, Zach Burt, Brad Cox-Goodyer, Taylor Whitford, Jack Avent and Corey Nankervis will  line up in their third grand final in as many years chasing an historic three-peat of TSL flags for the club.

“Taylor is obviously our captain, Brad is in our leadership group along with Jack and Zach so those guys have come a long way,” North Launceston coach Zane Littlejohn said.

“And if you think of Zach and Jack –  this will be their fifth grand final for our footy club if you count their under 18 and colts ones. It’s not a bad record in six or seven years at our footy club to play in five grand finals.

“They will be super excited about the opportunity – we talk about not getting your nerves mixed up your excitement – it’s OK to be excited because it is a grand final and you want to be and you want to enjoy the occasion but no doubt they will be having little words here and there in the changerooms to the guys who will have experienced their first grand final.”

Avent said a lot of hard work had been put in behind the scenes this year and over the past three years to get the club to successive grand finals and praised the efforts of fitness guru David Manktelow for putting the players in the best possible physical condition.

“To be where we are going for history – it’s a pretty special moment and something I am really looking forward to.

“We are pretty confident and we’ve been doing everything right the last couple of weeks and our form has been good and I think it will be down to who wants it more,” Avent said.

“Seeing what I’ve seen in the past two weeks from people around the club we are in with a  good chance to make history.

“We’ve got a lot of first-time grand finalists who look to us for what we do and we’ve told them to keep their week as enjoyable as possible and enjoy it because it doesn’t come along every year.”

Burt, who will be playing his 100th senior game in the grand final, said winning a third flag would be the ideal way to send off Littlejohn to Brisbane.

“Zane has done a lot for the club over the eight or nine years he has been here and is a massive role model to all the boys at the club and he is a good mate. I notch up my 100th which is a massive privilege with a great club and I look forward to running out o

Bowden focus on glory for Pies

By James Bresnehan, The Mercury

TASMANIA’S  best player could walk away with a swag of medals on TSL grand final day at Aurora Stadium today but Glenorchy star Jaye Bowden would settle for one — premiership bling.

The 27-year-old has already bagged the Hudson Medal as the TSL’s leading goalkicker and the REACT TSL Player of the Year media award.

He is favourite for the Alastair Lynch Medal as the competition’s best in today’s pre-game count, and another good on-field performance might also earn him the Baldock Medal as best afield.

But Bowden’s focus is squarely on the team prize.

“I’d be happy to walk away with a premiership medal,” he said.

“That’s all I’m really worried about.

“It has burned since we lost last year. It has burned since we lost in 2009.

“You don’t rock up each year to lose — that’s the same for every club — so that burn is there for every club, not just for us.

“Hopefully we can make amends this weekend.”

After losing the grand final to the Northern Bombers last year, victory today would be extra sweet.

“It would be fantastic,” said Glenorchy coach Aaron ­Cornelius.

“That’s what we play for. That’s what all of our supporters and staff are here for and that’s why we go through ­preseason.

“We’re in it to win it and we’ve given ourselves a good opportunity this weekend to go up against one of the best sides in the state and really have a crack.”

Standing in Glenorchy’s way is North Launceston, which is shooting for a third consecutive flag.

Since losing its last home-and-away game to the Burnie Dockers, which cost it a home qualifying final, North Launceston has been back to its best.

“It was a reminder that you can’t take your foot off the pedal against any opposition,” said Bombers coach Zane Littlejohn.

The Bombers narrowly beat Glenorchy in the second semi-final and Littlejohn said if his men played to plan, they would be hard to stop.

“We’ll back our troops in, in terms of how we need and want them to play,” Littlejohn said.

For those who can’t make it to Launceston, all three grand finals can be live streamed by clicking the link on tasmanianstateleague.com.au