The Western Storm's Thane Bardenhagen attempts a mark in last night's clash against the Northern Bombers at Aurora Stadium. Picture: PHILLIP BIGGS
NTHN BOMBERS 7.14 (56)
WESTERN STORM 6.9 (45)
THE Northern Bombers gutsed out a hard-fought 11-point victory over the Western Storm in a scrappy, low-scoring arm wrestle in their State League game at Aurora Stadium last night.
It was North Launceston's third victory of the season and sees it sitting third on the ladder with a home game against Devonport to come next Saturday.
A cold, stiff southerly breeze to the Invermay Park end made goalkicking difficult in the first half as both teams pushed numbers back defensively and struggled to put goals on the board.
The tackling pressure was good from both sides but skill errors by hand and foot and poor decision-making caused turnovers and made for a poor spectacle.
The Storm led by eight points at quarter-time and 14 at the main break with only five goals kicked in the first half.
Whatever coach Zane Littlejohn said to his charges at half-time worked as North Launceston wrested control of the game with a five-goal-to-one burst in the third term with the aid of the breeze.
Brad Cox-Goodyer showed his importance when moved to the goal square, booting three goals for the term, and captain Mitch Van Den Berg found more of the ball to bang on two, giving North Launceston an 11-point advantage going into the final term.
The Storm finished with the wind at its back in the final term but its Foxtel Cup victory took a toll as it ran out of legs and could not bridge the deficit - the Bombers running out winners 7.14 (56) to 6.9 (45).
Only two goals were kicked in the final quarter - one to Alex Russell at the eight-minute mark to get the Storm to within eight points and Van Den Berg's third and sealer at the 18-minute mark.
Cox-Goodyer finished with three goals and was one of North's best player for the night with Van Den Berg also kicking three goals and Ben Elmer one.
Bart McCulloch used his strength and height to effect in the first half as a focal point in attack but could manage only two goals for the night as Storm's only multiple goalkicker.
Zane Brown was lively and played well for the Storm, along with Matt Hanson.
``We thought our intent was there in the first half and we had enough of the footy with eight scoring shots,'' Littlejohn said.
``We shuffled a few around and set up our forward structure a bit differently after half-time and asked them to lift their intensity and use the ball better and they responded.
``We effectively said `if they want to play it scrappy we will match them because it is the way we played last year and we'll beat them at it'.''
Western Storm coach Mitch Hills was disappointed with the loss but proud of his players' effort in fighting out the game after a four-day turnaround.
``I thought we put ourselves in a position to win the game but it wasn't pretty to watch and we knew the game style we've been playing and what they do - it was just going to be who could do it better on the night.
``It just turned into a mess at times, which we thought we were on top of at half-time but I thought we ran out of legs in the end and we looked like we were dead in the water.''