MITCH Thorp provided the game breaker when he gathered the ball on the run and headed towards the goal halfway through the last quarter at Aurora Stadium yesterday.
Until then, the State League final had been an arm wrestle with neither South Launceston nor Burnie prepared to give a centimetre.
Thorp's raking kick from in front of the North Launceston clubrooms found the mark at the northern end goal to make the difference 19 points - and the Bulldogs were on their way to a historic State League premiership.
It was only the second time in the game that the State League's leading goal scorer had forced the goal umpires to raise twin flags, and while it was well down on his usual haul, he had played a major part in leading the Bulldogs to the flag.
Thorp had caused headaches among the Burnie match committee before the game.
They asked, "Who do we play on him? How do we restrict him?"
The Dockers had two or three to choose from headed by Andrew Lee and then Nick McKenna yet Thorp always presented a danger.
Playing a little further up the ground than he would probably have liked, Thorp still found space and was able to pull down several strong marks and then generate play among his co- forwards.
Yet Thorp's influence on the game doesn't end there.
It is a wonderful achievement for a 24-year-old to not only turn his own life around but also to lift one of the lesser clubs in Tasmania to the premiership podium.
Thorp's maturity since he was delisted by the Hawthorn Football Club in 2009 has been well documented and he deserves praise for being able to coach a group of players, who are mostly around his age, to win the biggest prize of all.
The Bulldogs are a well- disciplined and talented line- up, and it is obvious to even the most casual observer that they want to play for their coach.
They were challenged by the Dockers yesterday but refused to buckle, and they often used their run and pace out of the backline to look further afield where Thorp, Jobi Harper or Matt Hanson were the main targets.
Thorp has ambitions of having a second crack at AFL football and with the inclination of clubs to recruit mature-age players, Thorp fits perfectly into the mould.
Throw in the fact that he is a premiership-winning coach with the ability to motivate and nurture players as well, and it would be no surprise if his name is drawn at the AFL national draft.