Launceston has bowed out of the TSL after a thrilling but ultimately heartbreaking seven-point preliminary final loss to Lauderdale.
The Blues looked the goods for a dream grand final showing until midway through the third quarter when a Sam Siggins-inspired Lauderdale began a run of eight consecutive goals to swing the match.
Facing a 26-point deficit 10 minutes into the last quarter, the Blues dug deep to reel the margin back to six points but were thwarted by a crucial Phil Bellchambers clearance which sealed the 13.9 (87) to 11.14 (80) result.
The win set up Lauderdale's third consecutive decider against North Launceston and saved the TSL a week of awkward conversations about grand final venues.
NTFA grand final day
Launceston coach Mitch Thorp said he was "incredibly proud" of his side's effort against a hardened finals outfit.
"The last 10 minutes of the game we threw whatever we could and got back within six points - my overriding reaction is just pride," he said.
"The level of commitment they've shown me since November is to be commended and I couldn't ask any more.
"Today was the ultimate learning experience - we got out to a four-goal lead and they adjusted a few things and physically targeted a few of the boys and we didn't react very well, we were a little bit undisciplined and they made us pay.
"But there's plenty to like about the season."
On a cracking day at Bellerive Oval, the two sides each enjoyed moments of brilliance in a stellar advertisement for TSL football.
Tassie Devils co-captain Nic Baker set up Alex Saunders (two goals) in the first term by spinning away from three closing Blues opponents, while his fellow co-captain Jared Dakin popped up not long after to give Launceston a four-point lead at quarter time.
Jobi Harper dominated for much of the day and combined strong marking with a stellar set shot from range during the second quarter, in which the Blues peppered the goalmouth without much success.
That would change.
Launceston's A-graders stood up in the third term with Tim Bristow and Jay Blackberry goaling from unlikely scenarios before Dylan Riley (three majors) opened up a game-high 21-point lead with a goal of the year contender.
Marking on the wing, the competition's best no. 88 played on and bolted away from Alex Hill, turning an oncoming Baker inside out on the 50 before dribbling home from close range.
The goal forced Southern Bombers coach Darren Winter's hand, and ex-Adelaide Crow Siggins' consequential switch into the ruck changed the game.
Suddenly winning clearance after clearance, the Southern Bombers kicked five goals in 11 minutes.
The last of them - Rhys Sutton's running effort deep in the pocket - was the best and established an 11-point lead at the final break.
Emotions spilled over at several points of the game to keep the emergency umpire warm, and a handful of incidents will likely be looked at by the match review panel.
"It was an interesting game," Thorp said.
"There's certainly no love lost between the two teams.
"There were pieces of the game that were good strong contests and there was some interesting stuff going on behind the ball."
Lauderdale will now dust itself off for its second crack at North Launceston in two weeks, with the two sides' season ledger sitting at 2-2.
Launceston will finish its season by cheering on its under-18s and women's outfits in grand finals before reflecting on a campaign which exceeded expectations - nearly to the point of reaching its first decider since 2012.
"This is just part of the journey for our group," Thorp said.
"We had a successful season and the pain of today will galvanise the boys even further.
"We'll ultimately pick ourselves up and shake it off and go again next year because there's plenty of growth left in our group."
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