IT has been a while since Launceston has been in a position to win three consecutive State League matches.
That is the prize for Sam Lonergan’s third-place Blues if they can overcome Burnie at West Park on Saturday.
Blues forward Sonny Whiting booted seven goals to help Launceston to a 17.14 (116) to 8.8 (54) victory over the Dockers at Windsor Park in round 2. However, Lonergan is mindful of what could happen if his charges do not turn up to play. “It’s a new position for this group of players (who only won five matches last season)... so certainly holding that consistency over the back half of the year is going to be tough but I think they are up for the challenge,” he said.
“To be in this situation, sitting third on the ladder and 6-3 is just a positive thing.
It’s a new position for this group of players (who only won five matches last season).Launceston coach Sam Lonergan
“This week’s really important for us we know we have got a tough game the following Friday night (against North Launceston).”
Lonergan said playing Burnie at West Park is still a challenge for any visiting outfit.
“With guys like (Nick) McKenna sliding back, (Tyrone) Morrison sliding back into the hole and (Clinton) Proctor sort of sliding back out of the midfield into space makes it tough on small ground to try and find targets,” he said.
The Blues welcome in coach Sam Lonergan, Jake Hinds, Sam Rundle and Jacob Boyd, while Ben Killalea and Jimmy Aganas will play their first senior match this season. Those six replace Jordan Harris, Casey Brown, Brendan Taylor, Alec Wright, Stewart Williams and James Gillow.
The Dockers lose Mariner Thomas Mundy, Jack Weller and Blair Rubock but regain Bailey Boag, Finlay Poke and Josh Murray.
Burnie coach Clint Proctor believes Saturday’s return clash will exemplify the improvement in his largely youth-laden squad.
“Our focus has been about continual improvement across the board, so hopefully the break means they are mentally prepared to face Launceston,’’ Proctor said.
“We just want 120 minutes of effort and we really want to just show some improvement on our performance in round 2, as they did a real number on us.”
While the win-loss ratio sits at 1-8, performances against the Tigers, Hobart City and Clarence in recent weeks have displayed the Dockers’ capabilities.
“We’ve just been lacking that experience at the right time of matches to get over the line, so the focus this week will be ensuring we have that effort and commitment to the contest and hopefully we will get some momentum from that,” Proctor said.
He said last time around his side had broken down through their midfield spread and defensive structures, areas he believed would be better this time around.
“We do think we are a much more improved team now, as our young boys have six or so matches under their belt, where back then they only had one,’’ Proctor said.
“It has been a huge challenge for a lot of them as we have 15 of our boys are 18 and under, so that is an enormous amount of inexperience. But the combination has been really promising and we’re looking forward to seeing them improve.”