Storming finish too much for the Blues

Launceston's Scott Stephens comes in for a heavy tackle yesterday against the Western Storm.
Launceston's Scott Stephens comes in for a heavy tackle yesterday against the Western Storm.

A SIX-GOAL final quarter saw the Western Storm shrug off a determined Launceston challenge to win their State League clash at Aurora Stadium by 34 points and retain top spot on the TSL ladder.

The Blues were gallant and took the game up to their more-fancied opponent throughout the match but paid for inaccurate kicking in front of goal which cost them a potential lead on several occasions.

They trailed by 14 points at half-time but kicked three goals in a row late in the third term to cut the deficit to just seven points at the last change.

With the game in the balance, Storm coach Mitch Hills put the hard words on some of his leaders who had been down during the game and they responded with a six-goal to one final term to build a match-winning lead and run out winners, 16.14 (110) to 11.11 (77).

Alex Russell led the way in his 50th game for the club booting a game-high six goals in a best-on-ground performance, including four in the final term to help sew up the game on a day when the Storm’s other forward tall towers in Bart McCulloch and Hills were kept to one and two goals respectively.

‘‘I was really happy with our last quarter and really put it on a few boys who were really flat, especially our midfielders who are our best players, because we got done in the stoppages easily in the first three quarters,’’ Hills said.

‘‘I put it on those guys that they had to have a big quarter because the last two weeks they had been flat really and they lifted their level and it was a really good quarter for us.

‘‘We got the job done – it was a bit messy but we’ll take the points and move on.’’

Hills said the Storm had not been playing its best footy in the past few weeks but had been able to tick off the wins and every game was important.

‘‘Lonnie were always going to come pretty hard today and they’re playing their last two games of the season,’’ Hills said.

‘‘They always set themselves for us – whether it was South last year or us this year – they always have a real crack at us and have been setting themselves for this one for the past few weeks, I know, so it was really good the way the boys responded and got the win in the end.’’

Hills praised Russell’s efforts after the game.

‘‘It’s good to have another string to our bow when Bart or myself are not having the best game that we’ve got someone else to stand-up down forward,’’ he said.

‘‘I think he has taken his game to a new level and to do that in his 50th was impressive today and he was really good.’’

Launceston coach Scott Stephens led his troops from the front finishing with four goals as the Blues best player and could have had more with three misses from relatively easy set shots.

But he wasn’t alone with Michael Musicka also having the kicking yips against his former South teammates and missing gettable shots.


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