Launceston has won its second premiership in a row after a highly anticipated Grand Final rematch against North Launceston on Sunday.
It was a tight, low-scoring affair for most of the game until Launceston pulled away with five goals in the final term. The Blues claimed their third premiership with a 77-43 victory.
Despite holding the best record heading into the finals (16 wins and twi losses) and many describing them as ‘the standard’ throughout the season, a round 20 loss to Clarence and a semi-final loss to North Launceston had surprisingly, positioned the Blues as underdogs heading into the big dance.
Launceston had also been unable to overturn a two-match suspension for key forward Cody Thorpe. This left doubts as to where the Blues’ goals would come from.
It was a fierce and fiery contest early on with the crosstown rivalry living up to the hype. Goals were hard to come by in the first third quarters, the scores at three quarter time 42-45 in the Blues’ favour.
The Blues turned up the heat in the fourth, holding North to just one behind in the term, while extending their own total by 35-points. The stats reflect this fourth quarter domination as Launceston switched on its elite ball control and movement that had made the Blues the most efficient side all year.
They led the Bombers in total disposals in the fourth 71-42, and controlled the ball movement through marks 26-5. Their inside mids led this charge, keeping the Bombers from winning a single clearance from centre bounces in the final term.
This drive of momentum was highlighted by a huge hanger from Launceston’s Jake Smith, who then booted it deep into the forward 50 setting up a crumbing goal from Zach Morris.
The Darrell Baldock medal for best on ground went to Launceston leader and ruckman, Joe Groenewegan. Groenewegan racked up 23 disposals, 27 hitouts and two goals in a complete ruck game.
Other notable performers form the Blues were Brendan Taylor with a game high three goals, while coach and brother of Cody, Mitch Thorpe stepped in and gave the Blues some much needed height in the forward line. He was quiet in terms of possession, but was incredibly vocal on field and set the tone with two goals early in the first.
Cripps Player of the Year and new TSL life member Jay Blackberry registered 22 touches and a goal, while skipper Jobi Harper claimed 17 disposals and a game high 11 clearances.
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An important aspect of the Blues win was their ability to halt the impact of 2021 Alistair Lynch Medallist Brad Cox-Goodyer who averaged 24 disposals, six clearances and almost two goals a game in the regular season. Launceston managed to hold Cox-Goodyer to just 11 touches and a goal.
Ultimately it was a resounding victory for the Blues, but North Launceston should still be satisfied with its season. The Bombers finished the regular season with a 14-4 record while blooding 19 debutants along the way.
One of these youngsters impressed in the Grand Final, with Oliver Sanders racking up 21 disposals, seven clearances and a goal.
The Bombers now consist of a young, strong core, which will see them contend for premierships for many years to come.
However, 2021 is Launceston’s year. They were clear favourites throughout the season and stepped up when it mattered in the biggest game of the year. The Blues have won their third premierships in a decade and look primed to fight for a historic three-peat in 2022.
Launceston Blues 12.5 (77) def. North Launceston Bombers 6.7 (43)
Darrell Baldock Medallist: Joe Groenewegen
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