South Launceston has continued its recent dominance of the NTFA’s first division by defeating Bracknell to claim its third flag in four years.
Having played only three times in six weeks leading up to the decider, the Bulldogs were challenged early but ran the game out stronger than their opponents to finish 32-point winners, 11.9 (75) to 6.7 (43).
Bulldogs coach Leigh Harding, who used his post-match address to present retired teammate Adam Viney with a premiership medallion, said the win was a testament to the work his side put in over the pre-season.
“I’m over the moon, it’s a massive reward for effort,” Harding said.
“All the Sundays we’ve had and the extra recovery sessions we’ve had that other clubs may not have done, it’s all worth it now.”
Bracknell settled first in a game which was largely characterised by one-on-one contests across the ground, yet it was South who took a six-point lead into quarter-time after three late goals.
A low-scoring but high-tension second term slog saw Bracknell take a one-point lead into the main break but eventually their resistance snapped.
South’s ball-movers began to get off the chain in the third term, finding more space on the wings and giving Jade Child and Jake Laskey (three goals apiece) more looks inside the forward 50.
Midfielder Aaron Viney and ruckman Rory Mansell continued to dominate and when Clarrie Boon medallist Luke Mccarty converted from a pack mark midway through the final term the contest was over.
“Our second halves, we know they’re our strength,” Harding said.
“We were lucky enough to hold them pretty tight in that second quarter and we knew we had the fitness and trusted our structures to be able to run the game out well and that’s what happened for us.”
Harding said losing to the Redlegs in last year’s preliminary final had inspired a bigger effort this season.
“That’s been a huge motivation for us guys who played in that.
“There’s a lot of guys that are new to the footy club but most of us played in that and without actually mentioning it, there was motivation internally for me and a few others to get back on them and we did that today.”
Callum Mulder, Jake Cox (two goals) and Jackson Chorley gave Bracknell plenty around the ground but the Redlegs were often unable to break through South’s defensive unit to give their forwards a chance.
Bracknell skipper Gary Shipton said he was disappointed to fall short of a maiden Redlegs NTFA flag but was proud of his players’ efforts.
“It was an arm wrestle right up to half-time, and they cut us open in about a 10-minute patch which we knew they could do and we were trying to nullify that as best we could,” Shipton said.
“We’re a small community out here at Bracknell - 350 people - we’re punching above our weight so we’re quite proud of our efforts throughout the year.
“South are a quality side and their back half of the year has been fantastic, so credit to South.”