South Launceston stamped itself as the State League premiership favourite with an impressive performance to beat reigning premier Burnie by 71 points in the final roster game of the TSL season at Aurora Stadium yesterday.
The Bulldogs outran and outplayed the Dockers and dominated the contest from the outset kicking six goals to one in the opening quarter to open up a 36-point lead at quarter-time, with Alex Russell booting three for the term from full-forward.
South kicked four goals to two in the second quarter to extend the lead to 49 points at half-time and had all the answers in the second half booting nine goals to five to run out easy winners 19.14 (128) to 8.9 (57) - Burnie's biggest defeat of the season.
The Bulldogs relished the open spaces of Aurora Stadium with their leg speed and run and spread.
With a winning on-ball brigade, a solid defence and a forward structure that caused headaches all day for Burnie's defence, they dominated the inside 50s and generated double the number of scoring shots - coach Mitch Thorp, Bart McCulloch and Russell all providing forward targets and kicking goals.
Thorp was again outstanding in another best on-ground performance and did his AFL draft chances no harm picking up 37 possessions, pulling down 22 marks and kicking a game high five goals - three of which came in the final quarter. Russell finished with four goals all kicked in the first half, with Tom Larby and McCulloch booting two each.
''We saved our best for last - there were no excuses today and both teams had strong sides in - (Daniel) Johncock didn't play for us and Cody (Thorp) didn't play but I thought the effort was tremendous,'' Thorp said. ``That's the highest level of footy we've played all year and there were some outstanding performances.
''We were up and about for it - we've put a lot of work into this season staring last November and we weren't going to let this opportunity slip and wanted to really earn our break.''
Thorp said the win would be a big confidence boost for his side on the ground where the grand final will be played.
''Our strengths really stood out, our forwards got on top and our ball use was really good and we kicked a big score against a quality opposition,'' Thorp said.
''We lowered our eyes and hit our targets and our structure worked with Bart and me playing a bit higher today and Alby a bit deeper.
''We kicked the ball really well and there is a lot of space on this ground and we used it well.
''We've got really fit midfielders and fit forwards, the ground suits us and it was just a really good team effort.''
South had plenty of good players with some standouts including Beau Thorp who shut down Luke Shackleton restricting him to 11 touches, Clinton Drake good off half-back and captain Mitch Hills playing well on Jason Laycock.