Written by Matt Hill
It was the first time the Bombers had played on their traditional home ground Invermay Park in the TSL and it brought out a healthy crowd to see the Bombers edge out a much-improved Devonport by 19 points.
Mitch Thorp was the star for the Magpies with five goals, while Tom Bennett and Alex Lee were both terrific as North Launceston came from behind to win.
With key players Jay Lockhart and Taylor Whitford out for the premiership favourites, the Magpies sensed an opportunity to create an upset and ruin North’s homecoming. Devonport started strong, piling on pressure against their more highly fancied opponents and this reflected on the scoreboard with the visiting side booting the first four goals of the game to cause some headaches for the Bombers coaching staff. Coach Mitch Thorp was a colossal up forward, booting all four of Devonport’s opening goals and causing young key defender Jock White all kinds of problems.
Both co-captains for the Pies in Sharman and Riley rallied their troops and controlled the midfield early on to see the equal bottom side lead by a healthy 18 points at quarter time. A late first quarter goal from star player Brad Cox-Goodyear gave the Bombers a much-needed boost before heading into the break.
Despite controlling the first quarter, coach Mitch Thorp demanded more from his team as he knew North would charge back and that is exactly what transpired.
In the second stanza, if you had have arrived late to the game you would have assumed North owned the contest, as they piled on six goals to one to take the lead going into the main break. Goal to Couch, Walsh, Harrison, Bennet and two to McCulloch put the home side back on top and erased Devonport’s early first quarter dominance. Brad Cox-Goodyer again dominated through the middle and got a lot of the ball in which helped set up numerous opportunities for his team mates. At the main break, the Bombers lead was 14 points.
The third quarter was evenly balanced with both sides trading goals to set up an interesting final stand. Thorp added his fifth for the game before Walsh and Couch slotted goals to see the Bombers out to a five goal lead. The Magpies would not die though, striking two goals within a minute late in the third giving them belief that they were still a fighting chance going into the decisive quarter.
It was not to be, with the Bombers holding on to claim a win against a very competitive Devonport. McCulloch and Bennett slotted last quarter goals in which saw the Bombers got home. Late goals to dominant Devonport players Sharman and Symmons on the siren saw the margin reduced to 19 points, giving a fair reflection on a strong game from the visitors.
With that victory, the Bombers retained second spot with Devonport left to think only what could have been. Despite the loss, Magpies Coach Mitch Thorp was wrapt with the effort.
“Proud of the boys, North are organised and fit and in Launceston to go down by 19 points was a good result. Yep, we are disappointed with the loss by you have got to crawl before you can walk.
“There is a lot of belief in the group. There is some character and there is substance to what goes out on the park each week. The desire to compete was very impressive today.”
North Launceston coach Tom Couch wasn’t happy that they were bettered for effort early but was happy to get out with the win.
“We got the win and we move on…We are pleased with a few of the boys that stepped but full credit to Thorpy and Devonport.”
Next week North take on bottom side Burnie at West Park who are coming off a massive 144-point thumping at the hands of Glenorchy. North should also regain captain Taylor Whitford for the clash who is recovering from a niggling ankle injury.
For the Magpies, they will host the Hobart City Demons who are also coming off a tremendous loss. The Demons lost by 89 points to Lauderdale and more importantly missed an opportunity to be equal third with Launceston and Glenorchy on seven wins. Now they sit in sixth position on six wins, one game behind a finals spot. This match should be a tight contest with the Demons in desperate need of the four points to remain in reach of a finals, whilst Devonport will have high hopes after a good confidence boosting performance against North.
THREE THINGS I LEARNT
- Devonport will be a promising side in the future.
With the leadership and role of key players such as Symmons, Thorp, Riley and Sharman the Magpies are going through a period similar to of which Launceston went through a couple of seasons ago. They have promising young players who are gaining valuable experience this year in which will suit them up well for the future.
- Inaccuracy will hurt the Bombers one day.
The Bombers kicked 11.17 and have had numerous games this year in which they have almost cost themselves victories. With the finals close approaching the Bombers can’t afford to waste their scoring opportunities as it will inevitably cost them a victory.
- Dylan Riley has some of the best hands in the competition.
The co-captain has an excellent vertical leap and is extremely strong overhead. The skipper is tremendously hard over the ball and has been one of the best players not only for Devonport this season but also in the league.
NORTH LAUNCESTON v. DEVONPORT
Round 14 – 09/07/2017
North Launceston 1.1, 7.3, 9.11, 11.17 (83)
Devonport 4.1, 5.1, 8.1, 10.4 (64)
GOALS, North Launceston :
B. McCulloch 3, T. Couch 2, M. Walsh 2, T. Bennett 2, C. Harrison 1, B. Cox-Goodyer 1
M. Thorp 5, B. Sharman 1, L. Bissett 1, D. Riley 1, C. Burnett 1
BEST, North Launceston :
T. Bennett, Z. Burt, B. Cox-Goodyer, A. Lee, T. Donnelly, J. Ponting
M. Thorp, D. Riley, B. Symmons, S. Egger, Q. Byard, B. Butler