North Launceston has maintained its mantle as Tasmania’s number one club, reaching the pinnacle for the fourth time in five seasons on Saturday.
Compared to previous encounters this season whereby North jumped its Bomber opponents, Lauderdale was a composed outfit early at UTAS Stadium and drew first blood in the fourth minute via Jacob Gillbee.
They matched North in the contest as both sides made skill errors under pressure and struggled to find a target inside 50 for most of the day.
However, it was Taylor Whitford’s men that eventually rose to the top, winning back-to-back premierships over Lauderdale 7.21 (63) to 4.9 (33).
Dual Baldock Medallist Brad Cox-Goodyer, Mark Walsh, Tarryn Thomas, Josh Ponting and Jordan Cousens were lively for North in the opening term, while Nat Franklin, Bryce Walsh, Tim Mosquito and Phil Bellchambers competed hard during a 14-minute patch of contested play.
Mosquito broke the deadlock after a dubious free kick, before the perennial champions gained the ascendancy, with Cox-Goodyer and Tom Couch goaling late to have North leading by a solitary point at the first change.
The second stanza was chaotic and spiteful with Hayden Smith (a late bump) and Taylor Whitford (front-on contact) written in the book, while Beau Sharman’s rogue elbow to the face of Bryce Walsh will be looked at.
The term ebbed and flowed with just two goals converted – Bart McCulloch from a 50m penalty and Mosquito’s second.
North seemed to be trouble by Lauderdale’s pace, but Jack Avent, Zach Burt and Rhyan Mansell were cool absorbing the heat in defence with their side up 3.8 (26) to 3.7 (25) at half-time.
North upped the ante in the third term, booting 2.5 to one behind, as Couch went into middle and became more involved.
Both contenders had plenty of chances but North was more polished with the last kick into attack costing Lauderdale big time.
Tom Bennett started the offensive in the first 90 seconds with a miraculous dribbling goal from an almost impossible angle, while Thomas – in his final game in red and black for a while – got on the end of a loose ball inside 50 and didn’t disappoint from 35m out.
On the other side, Darren Winter’s men squandered easy chances to be behind by 16 points with a term to play.
Sherrin Egger switched forward and formed a dangerous combination with Thomas in the last hurrah, with the young North-West Coaster successfully snapping after missing just moments earlier to push the margin out to 23 points.
Gillbee – one of only two Lauderdale goalkickers – booted his second and his team’s first since the second term’s eighth minute.
But enter draft certainty Thomas, who took two screamers – converting after one – to become North’s only multiple goalkicker and his teammates continued to attack.
The powerhouse sent through 2.8 to one goal in the final term to continue a remarkable era.
Skipper steps up when it counts
Four-time premiership and two-time Baldock medallist Brad Cox-Goodyer says winning grand finals never gets old.
And Cox-Goodyer, 25, must give Lauderdale nightmares after he was adjudged the best performer on the biggest stage for a second-straight year.
“The adversity keeps growing and people keep doubting us but we keep showing them we’re good enough,” he said post match.
“You never get old [of winning flags], the feeling you have right now with you best mates – you can’t describe it.
“It was cracking game and [Lauderdale] really brought the heat... [and] we managed to fight back after half-time and grind it out. We had to change things up because the ball was going end-to-end a little bit so we just had to control it to lock it in.”
And on the Baldock medals: “I’m just happy to play my role”.