Round 1 is usually played in 20-plus degree temperatures, on a dry track with plenty of end-to-end action. Well, 2020 has taught us it's like no other year in living memory, and Saturday's season opener at KGV was no different.
On a slippery track, and on a day that barely nudged above 8 degrees, Glenorchy and Launceston put on a physical slog, with clean possession at a premium and pressure at impressive levels.
When the dust settled, it was Launceston who emerged 25-point winners, thanks largely to their ability to capitalise on their host's mistakes at key moments.
The Blues generated 10 more scoring shots from turnovers to give them the edge, with most other key statistics level-pegging.
Glenorchy won clearances (28-25) and ground balls (84-82), drew hard-ball gets (45-45) and trailed by just one inside 50 entry (34-35) in a game that typified two quality sides up for the grind.
Mitch Rainbird was a standout around the contest with 18 possessions in the shortened contest, along with 10 tackles, 7 marks and 4 clearances.
Josh Arnold and Zac Webster were outstanding down back, marshalling a young backline superbly to slow the Blues' dangerous running game.
Arnold finished with 20 disposals, 7 rebound 50s and 3 spoils, while Webster lodged 15 possessions, 3 spoils and did an excellent job on the brilliant Dylan Riley.
They received strong support from a pair of young debutantes, Dominic Brown blanketing Launceston star Jay Blackberry (8 possessions), while Brady Williams (5 spoils) held Mitch Thorp goalless.
Third-gamer James Deegan, making his first senior appearance in the ruck, was also a standout with his strong performance against 100-gamer Hamish Leedham.
Other impressive performers for the RSEA Magpies included running machine James Webb, tireless small forward Adam Roberts and returning premiership star Matt Dilger (7 marks), who appears to have shaken his frustrating two-year run of injuries.
Tale of the tape
The Magpies didn't make the most of their early dominance, having only Aiden Grace's cleverly-slotted set shot to show for a first quarter played mostly in their half, thanks to the midfield work on Rainbird and Cal Daly.
The contest opened up in the second term as both teams piled on three majors, Brodie Palfreyman impressive for the visitors, while Ryan Banks-Smith (12 disposals, 5 inside 50s) provided a classy intercept and finish for the "COVID capacity" home crowd of 500 people.
However, despite leading inside 50 entries 24-16 at the main break, the Magpies trailed narrowly, and when Launceston had their period of dominance in the third term they extended the margin to 15 points.
Inaccuracy prevented a late Glenorchy charge, with the Blues clinically capitalising on two turnovers late in the contest to seal the deal as Jobi Harper showed his class in the big moments.
Launceston 7.12.54 def Glenorchy RSEA Magpies 4.5.29
Goals: Grace, Roberts, Rainbird, Banks-Smith
Best: Arnold, Rainbird, Deegan, Webster, Roberts, Williams, J Webb
*The Magpies head to Lauderdale this Saturday to continue their strong rivalry with the Southern Bombers. First bounce at 2pm