Launceston coach Sam Lonergan has handed out the ultimate compliment to the Blues’ archrivals, attributing much of his side’s rise up the ladder to North Launceston.
The reigning TSL premiers were 56 points the better after the final siren of this year’s opening round against Lonergan’s underdone men.
But Launceston has turned around their fortunes ever since the Good Friday loss in a five-game winning streak.
Lonergan said the Bombers’ presence on the other side of the Tamar is a godsend towards lifting the Blues.
“It’s certainly important, but we’ve still got another roughly ten games to go after this,” Lonergan said.
“But it’s another good opportunity to see North play.
“That’s the benefit of being crosstown rivals – you get to see the best team at least three times a year and hopefully meet them in the finals.”
North Launceston earlier this year came flying out of the blocks and were never headed in the inaugural Phil Edwards Cup. But Lonergan feels things changed quickly after the lopsided clash.
“It’s given us time to understand each other,” he said.
“We had new guys in the program, initially, and you replicate a lot of stuff at training and in preseason, but you can’t replicate the 110 per cent game-effort intensity.
“Round 1 was the first time guys got a look at how we wanted to play against the best team in the comp – and it didn’t work and we’ve had another [five] games after that to find our feet.”
Forward Mitch Thorp has continued to hit the scoresheet hard just as onballer Dylan Riley had put in best-on-ground performances.
“Those guys are really now finding their feet in terms of our program and what we expect,” Lonergan said.
“I’m now really quite confident the guys are somewhat battle-ready that once the pressure hits and the game fatigue sets in, they will have the solution out there that they didn’t have in round 1.”
Hamstrung Lonergan said Saturday’s game is the one time he does not mind being sidelined and coaching from the box than in the middle.
“To be able to oversee and have that bird’s eye view of the way North play is certainly a benefit for me to assess and really focus in and understand that for the back end of the year,” he said.