IN the first of two Tasmanian State League (TSL) pieces wrapping up the first week of finals, we took a look at the first against fourth clash between North Launceston and Clarence and some of the top stars out on display.
NORTH LAUNCESTON vs. CLARENCE
By: Peter Williams
Twelve consecutive goals to North Launceston reminded spectators at UTAS Stadium just what the reigning premiers were capable of as the Bombers rampaged to a whopping 78-point win over Clarence. The Roos were plucky early kicking the first two goals of the game through bottom-agers Darcy Gardner and Noah Holmes and then leading by as much as 13 points at one stage after Josh Green kicked his side’s third major. Many expected a North Launceston response, but no one expected a 12 goals to zero domination over the next three quarters – including five in the final term – to run out 15.8 (98) to 3.2 (20) winners.
Daniel Withers was electric up forward and got better as the game wore on booting five goals for the Bombers, whilst Tom Bennett (three goals) and Taylor Whitford (two) both hit the scoreboard. Brad Cox-Goodyer was best on ground kicking a goal and always looked lively, whilst Jack Avent (one), Arion Richter-Salter and Thomas Donnelly were also standouts. For the Roos, Zac Buechner, Ollie Davis and Gardner all tried hard, with Davis breaking through a tag to be a force on the inside, whilst unfortunately for the Roos, they just faded as experience took over.
#16 Ollie Sanders
Had a classy game for the Bombers, spreading well and getting better as the match wore on. His work rate and repeat efforts to get to multiple stoppages was admirable and in particular he looked lively in the front half of the ground. Sanders’ third term was the busiest for the talent, working hard in the back pocket to win the ball, then pushing into the midfield having plenty of touches. He spread regularly and then did well early in that term to speed out of a stoppage and use the ball well by hand and get it back not long after in space. Overall he was impressive for the Bombers, finishing with 18 disposals, six marks, five clearances and two tackles.
#64 Baynen Lowe
Lowe loves the contested side of things and lays some fierce tackles. He showed some quick hands under pressure, and was able to get it out whilst being tackled early in the second term. After a quiet first term, Lowe worked into the game and used his pace and defensive pressure to unsettle the opposition. In the third quarter, Lowe had a couple of score assists and was involved in a handball chain down the wing then hit up a target inside 50. He took a strong mark 40m out later in the quarter but his shot went to the top of the square and was cleared. Another good effort was late in the final term, spoiling one-on-one then handballing off which led forward to another goal for the reigning premiers. All up, Lowe had four score involvements to go with his 18 disposals, two marks, two clearances and five tackles.
#20 Oliver Davis
The TSL Rising Star really came of age when he found North Launceston’s Ben Simpson walk up to him from the first bounce. Davis was tightly guarded by Simpson and afforded no space around the clearances, but like he tends to do, he just wears down his opponents. Davis might not have had the greatest impact he has had in games – he was being tightly held – but he never gives in and just throws himself at the ball and ball carrier and his work rate is enormous. With clean hands in congestion and always giving it a crack even with the mammoth deficit mounting, Davis kept trying and finished with 18 disposals – 11 contested – six tackles and three clearances.
#23 Sam Banks
The most lively of the Clarence young guns, Banks played in defence and tried to use his run and skills to break the lines. He took a strong contested one-on-one mark on the wing, and whilst he was often under pressure in defence, made the best of it. Had one weird, uncharacteristic turnover in defence that triggered a series of mistakes by both teams, and then copped a hip and shoulder from the goal umpire in a couple of minutes he would rather forget. He readjusted and and was able to try his heart out driving the ball long, though the North Launceston defence was set up well. By the final siren, Banks had 18 disposals, one mark, one tackle, two clearances and three score involvements.
#34 Noah Holmes
It was a lonely day to be a full-forward for Clarence after quarter time, with Holmes winning the majority of his four touches in the first term when the Roos looked lively. Had one of the highlights of the day with a goal off a step 50m out and kicked it with ease like it was a 15m pass. He moved into the ruck to start the fourth term, but ultimately like most of his teammates had a quiet outing with four disposals, two tackles, two score involvements, one hitout and one goal.
#39 Darcy Gardner
Symbolic of many Clarence players, Gardner tried hard but was ultimately overwhelmed by the experienced North Launceston midfield. He ran hard in the opening term on the transition to lose his opponent and mark 30m out to slot home the opening goal of the match. His first term was huge with a great tackle on an opponent to stop a clearance, and then pumped a raking ball in deep that travelled 60-odd metres. He was quieter after quarter time, finishing with 11 disposals, three marks, three tackles and four score involvements.
#46 Baker Smith
Saw plenty of the ball in defence, but had a tough day on Blake McCulloch. When he had the ball, Smith looked composed and showed he could close down his opponent with well timed spoils. Often he was starting scoring chains from defence, but had his hands full with his opponent. McCulloch missed a couple of chances, but Smith still held him to the one goal from eight touches and three marks, far from disgraced against a distinguished opponent. Smith also hurt himself landing a little awkwardly in the last term, finishing with six disposals, one mark, two tackles and three score involvements for the match.
Picture: Andrew Woodgate