The Blues of Windsor Park chose an appropriate week to produce a right royal finish.
A week before Harry ties the knot, Sam Lonergan’s men produced a princely performance to set up an equally glitzy occasion to determine who is king of the castle.
A one-point victory in this first-versus-third encounter, combined with North’s easy win in the grand final rematch, means the two Launceston teams go into next week’s derby as outright State League leaders.
The Blues, who have not lost since the opening match of the season against North, led from the opening score and looked comfortable with a 28-point lead at the final break.
But with Tasmania’s over-active weather system putting the wind into Windsor Park, the Magpies promptly doubled their score in the final term, kicking seven straight to level proceedings when Ben Kamaric claimed his third from tight on the boundary.
Almost immediately Jake Smith’s would-be winner was blocked on the line but the resulting clearance fell to Jack Donnellan. The midfielder’s kick was as nervy as Smith’s but had enough momentum to be rushed through and give the hosts a 12.9 (81) to 13.2 (80) victory.
Full Time: And that's a nailbiting 1 point win for @LauncestonFC@LauncestonFC - 12.9 81 to @GDFCmagpies 13.2 80— Bupa TSL (@TasStateLeague) May 12, 2018
Launceston: Millucci, Thorp 3, Rushton, Blackberry 2, Palfreyman, Kelly-Mansell 1
Glenorchy: Oakley, Kamaric 3, Parker, Daly 2, M.Joseph, Webb, Rainbird 1
A moonboot wasn’t going to stop the injured Blues coach jumping for joy, metaphorically at least.
“We probably haven’t had a close game for a month and that’s exactly what we needed to really feel that game pressure and for the guys to get used to that,” Lonergan said.
“We gave away seven goals in the last quarter which isn’t ideal for any side and that ‘s disappointing but the guys just kept fighting. They were a couple of nervous shots on goal but we get a rushed behind to get the win.
“We were a developing side last year but now we’re genuinely a good side. It may have been messy but we got away with a win and that’s what good sides do.”
Lonergan said Sam Bruinewoud, filling the giant shoes of suspended ruckman Hamish Leedham in his first game as a 17-year-old, forward Jack Rushton, captain Chris Savage and midfielder Jay Blackberry were among his team’s best.
Meanwhile, in the week of his 19th birthday, Jake Hinds played with commendable maturity across the back while Giacomo Millucci was similarly composed in the forward line, booting three goals and setting up one of Mitch Thorp’s triple, a couple of months short of his own 19th birthday.
Riley Oakley, a late inclusion for perennial Alastair Lynch Medallist Jaye Bowden, and Harry Parker were Glenorchy’s other multiple goal-kickers along with Callen Daly whose overall performance was frequently as eye-catching as his florescent blue boots.
“North will be another good challenge,” Lonergan added. “We’ve felt some pressure today and it will be great to see what it’s like against the top of the table and North are genuinely the side we’re all chasing.”