South Launceston has capped off its five-year reign of NTFA dominance the same way it started – with a premiership.
Unbeaten throughout the season with only a draw at Longford to blot their copybook, the Bulldogs confirmed their status as division 1’s top team with a 15.8 (98) to 5.16 (46) win over Bracknell.
The forward pairing of Josh Harris and Brad Etchell took full advantage of what was a true team effort, kicking nine between them as the former took out the Clarrie Boon medal.
Harris, who returned to the Bulldogs this season after a year at Old Scotch, said the Dogs’ unbeaten season had been worth all the hard work.
“We’ve had our struggles,” the 17-year-old said.
“We started off really well and then throughout the middle of the season we struggled - we almost lost a couple of games but credit to the boys, we fought on and really dug deep.
“We knew we could win this flag and we weren’t settling for anything less.
“Credit to the boys - I love them all.”
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Bracknell came out firing with the wind in the first term and Corry Goodluck was everywhere, cancelling out Etchell’s first and coming close to adding two more.
The Redlegs locked the ball in their forward 50 for most of the quarter but couldn’t convert a series of tough yet gettable chances on goal.
The resulting quarter time score of 2.9 was a promising sign of competitiveness, but not the dagger to the heart that was needed to cause an upset.
Bulldogs coach Leigh Harding worked himself into the game in the second term and set up two goals on the run, the first a 50m Jordan Tepper bomb, and then Etchell’s third which gave the favourites a 14-point lead at the half.
Goodluck continued to lead the Redlegs’ fight in the third term but his second and third goals couldn’t keep pace with Harris, who scored three and set up another two in the second half.
Etchell kicked three in the last term to finish with a game-high bag of six, while Harding’s left-foot snap under pressure from deep in the forward pocket was the goal of the day.
South Launceston 1.2, 5.6, 9.7, 15.8 (98)
Bracknell 2.9, 2.10, 4.14, 5.16 (46)
GOALS, South Launceston: B. Etchell 6, J. Harris 3, G. Holt 1, J. Tepper 1, L. Harding 1, A. Viney 1, B. Tregurtha 1, J. Child 1
Bracknell: C. Goodluck 3, T. Page 1, R. Howe 1
BEST, South Launceston: B. Webb, B. Etchell, L. Harding, J. Harris, B. Tregurtha, C. Linger
Bracknell: T. Page, R. Howe, C. Burn, C. Archer, C. Goodluck, J. Dyer
Age no barrier for star Dog teen
Before Saturday, one would have been forgiven for thinking Launceston was only big enough for one Josh Harris who could run all day.
But South Launceston’s teenage forward proved he was a more-than-handy addition to his marathon-running namesake by taking out the Clarrie Boon medal for best on ground in the senior grand final.
The youngest player on the ground, Harris was a constant threat in the Bulldogs’ forward line and could have had more than his three goals but for a succession of long-range shots and unselfishly passing off a gimme to unlikely goalkicker Ben Tregurtha in the last term.
“I wasn’t expecting that at all,” 17-year-old Harris said after being presented the medal.
“I just went out there and did my part and helped the boys, my main concern was winning the flag for the boys.
“When they read our my name it was reward for effort I suppose - I’ve put in all the hard yards … it was icing on the cake.”