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From Ballarat Courier

NORTH Ballarat shrugged off early nerves to crush wooden spoon favourite Tasmania by 109 points in the Victorian Football League at Launceston yesterday.

The outcome was just what the Selkirk Roosters needed on the back of a 112-point hiding at the hands of the Northern Bullants.

Tasmania stayed in touch until half-time, but then North Ballarat cut loose at Aurora Stadium in an early AFL curtain-raiser to the Kangaroos and Hawthorn clash.

Tens goals in the third quarter and another nine reinstated important percentage and saw the Roosters return to the mainland with a 24.22 (166) to 8.9 (57) scoreline.

North Ballarat remains fifth - three games inside the top eight with four rounds to go.

With a bye in the last round, it meets the struggling Box Hill Hawks in Ballarat on Saturday and then leading premiership contenders Geelong (home) and Sandringham (away).

North Ballarat is only percentage behind fourth-placed Williamstown, but faces an uphill battle getting into the top four for a double chance in the finals with the Seagulls to play Bendigo Bombers, Port Melbourne and Tasmania.

"There were some testy moments, but in the end we played to the standard of football we're capable of and need to play," Roosters coach Gerard FitzGerald said.

North Ballarat was much more efficient in every aspect of its use of the football and crucially it was back on song at the stoppages.

Orren Stephenson did the bulk of the ruck work to allow Tristan Cartledge to ease back from a knee injury up forward and provided the Roosters' wealth of small runners such as Lindsay Thomas, Matt Campbell and Dean Chester with ample opportunities.

Cartledge pleased FitzGerald with his contribution after more than a month out and would have been even more effective but for some wayward kicking.

FitzGerald was also impressed by Steve Clifton's return from a hamstring strain.

Clifton did not play much more than a half, but was still able to have a significant impact on the game.

Brett Goodes and Ed Lower, who were also inclusions, also caught the eye.

Lower tagged the dangerous Ken Hall out of the match and also provided an offensive strength.

Goodes was solid in a defensive match-up role, while the dashing Tom Roach again showed his value via some powerful run from defence.

FitzGerald said the magnitude of the win had been the perfect response from the players to the Northern Bullants debacle.

Eleven players kicked goals with Thomas showing his true colours with four and Jacob Spolding, Ben Hughes and Lower contributing three apiece.

Importantly, the Roosters returned home last night without any new injuries - a pleasant change after a series of problems.