Written by Matt Hill
North Launceston flexed their muscle to trump arch rivals Launceston, claiming a 21 point win at UTAS Stadium.
With the win North Launceston has consolidated top spot, leaving Launceston to lick their wounds in third.
For what was a built up as a blockbuster match with first taking on third, this derby did not disappoint. It was a highly contested game of footy on Friday night with a healthy crowd in to watch the opening match of Stay ChatTY Round.
Early on North seemed to have the edge through good ball usage moving forward. Goals to a strong leading Zach Burt and the creative Jack Avent for North saw them escape to a double digit lead before Launceston got on top in the second half of the first quarter and used their disposals more efficiently. With young superstar Brodie Palfreyman once again playing a starring role for the Blues, using his acceleration and speed to bust open packs and win many clearances. Launceston climbed on top through dominance in the clearances, winning them eleven to six in the first and the Blues found Rulla Kelly-Mansell and Sam Rundle up front who got the Blues back into the contest at half time.
In the second stanza the game became on Launceston’s terms but wasteful usage moving forward saw North’s rebounding game accelerate to kick some much needed goals, just when the Blues were starting to potentially break the game wide open. Big man Bart McCulloch was a man on a mission up forward for North with the man mountain kicking two goals whilst also setting up coach Tom Couch for another major to cause all sorts of problems for the Blues defence.
At the other end however the Blues had their own answer to McCulloch with the exciting Sonny Whiting. Whiting booted two for the quarter and was becoming Launceston’s way back into the game. Whiting’s second goal was an incredible snap from the boundary which saw the Blues faithful get excited about their team’s chances. Along with that came late goals to Taylor and a lovely piece of work from Jack Donnellan, which saw him break Jay Foon’s tackle before running to fourty metres out and slotting another for the Blues. At the main break North only held a one point lead and the game was certainly up for the taking.
Coming out from the break North Launceston were highly determined and broke the game open through pilling on fourteen inside fifties compared to Launceston’s three of which saw the Bombers get out to a twenty two point lead at the last change. Two long bomb goals from powerhouse midfielder Brad Cox-Goodyear, along with goals to Couch and Burt made the task for the Blues an uphill battle.
The last term was fairly evenly balanced with both sides trading goals. McCulloch kicked his third and when Holmer ran into an open goal the game became out of reach for the Blues and North lead by close to six goals. However, two goals to Launceston coach Sam Lonergan saw the margin reduced but it was all too little too late for the Blues.
North coach Tom Couch was really happy with the second half performance. Couch praised the efforts of Brad Cox-Goodyear, Bart McCulloch and Alex Lee in getting his side over the line. Couch rating Lee as the best ruckman in the league with a best on ground performance.
“I thought Brad was outstanding and Bart playing off one leg just had to be a target up forward and he provided that, and Alex played one of his best games for the club and was important in setting up the win.
“Looking forward to getting some players back and really settling the side down.
“I’m very excited for the second half of the season and you know we sit at nine wins and two losses but still know we can play better which is out challenge moving forward.”
North have the bye next week before taking on Devonport at UTAS Stadium on Sunday the ninth of July.
For the Blues it was a major improvement on their Good Friday match against North which saw them hammered by eighty-five points.
Coach Sam Lonergan was really happy with the improved result for his side and thought they battled hard all game.
“It was a fantastic effort from the boys and was a great battle between the two northern sides and for the result to be within twenty-one points is really good for footy in the north.
“We are obviously disappointed with the result but are happy with the improvement and where we are heading moving forward.”
Next up the Blues take on Lauderdale at home in an important game for both sides. They last met in round four where the Blues took the four points with a narrow eleven point win.
“We think Lauderdale are a really good side and they haven’t lost since we last played them so we will have to be at our best next weekend,” Lonergan said.
North Launceston 2.3, 6.6, 10.10, 12.13 (85)
Launceston 2.1, 6.5, 7.5, 9.10 (64)
GOALS, North Launceston :
B. McCulloch 3, T. Couch 2, Z. Burt 2, B. Cox-Goodyer 2, L. Hollmer 1, J. Avent 1,
M. Walsh 1
S. Whiting 2, S. Rundle 2, S. Lonergan 2, R. Kelly-Mansell 1, B. Taylor 1, J. Donnellan 1
BEST, North Launceston :
B. Cox-Goodyer, A. Richter-Salter, T. Mansell, J. Ponting, J. Foon, J. White
J. Donnellan, J. Aganas, R. Tyrrell, B. Palfreyman, T. Sheppard, B. Taylor