North Launceston’s State League reign looks set to continue with the perennial champion earning the right to stage its fifth-consecutive grand final on Saturday.
Taylor Whitford’s men showed why they are the competition’s best with the Northern Bombers systematic cohesion and talent too much for Glenorchy to handle in the second-semi final at UTAS Stadium.
Bombers star Tom Couch (jet lag) and Pie defender Josh Grant (knee) didn’t line-up with Tom Donnelly and Harry Parker coming in for their respective sides.
The Magpies now face a do-or-die scenario in next week’s preliminary final to fight for a second crack at North in the September 15 decider, after falling14.10 (94) to 5.7 (37) short.
“The first half was dominant, especially the first quarter where we were able to get our hands on the footy around the contest and were clean,” Whitford said.
“Everyone was giving first option and played their role – not going above and beyond and not going below.
“I still don’t believe we’ve played four quarters and if we do I think it’s going to be a scary proposition, because that first quarter showed the kind of footy we can play. We still took a step forward today and it’s probably the best footy we’ve played all year.”
The hosts were on the board within 30 seconds after a tap from Alex Lee to captain Brad Cox-Goodyer was followed by a lace-out kick to Tom Bennett. The star centre-half forward went back and booted the first of his six first-half majors,going on to towel up his direct opponent Harrison Gunther with a goalkicking and marking masterclass.
The sublime piece of play led to eight unanswered goals from the defending and minor premiers, with Bennett (four) and Bart McCulloch (two) helping North to a 48-point advantage.
All the play was in the Bombers’ half with their tackling pressure, inside-50 and clearance dominance fronted by Cox-Goodyer, Jack Avent, Mark Walsh, Josh Ponting and Whitford.
After a call for more intent from coach Paul Kennedy, the Magpies were a lot more competitive in the second stanza and kicked the first two goals through Ben Kamaric and Callen Daly.
However, North then snagged four of the term’s next five goals with Bennett converting his sixth at the 25-minute mark to have his teammates leading 12.6 (78) to 3.4 (22) at half-time.
The third instalment wasn’t exactly easy watching for the neutral observer with the Pies controlling the play for little scoreboard reward.
Back from a week’s suspension, Rhys Mott sunk his second 16 minutes in to get the ball rolling before Cox-Goodyer unloaded from 55 metres to immediately cancel it out for the only goals of the third quarter.
North seemed to take the foot off the pedal in the second half with the margin irrelevant as the scoring dried up and any life went out of the match. John Geard snared one for the Pies before Tarryn Thomas lit up a boring quarter with a side-step goal from 30m out.
It would be hard to name three bad North players with Zach Burt standing tall in defence, Jordan Cousens impressing on the wing, and Sherrin Egger showing his wares. For Glenorchy, Mott was streets ahead of any other player, while Mitch Rainbird and Josh Arnold toiled.
“To have everyone on the same page is pivotal because if we can put enough pressure on forward and mid, we give our backs a chop out and they looked strong and steady,” Whitford said.
“There were parts in the second half where we’re going to have to improve, we just dropped away a bit as they put more numbers around the ball to bottle it up.
“But realistically the contest was over at half-time.”
Having won flags in 2014, 2015 and last year, North is going to take some beating in 2018.