The Western Magpies consolidated fifth place on the QAFL ladder with an emphatic 15.16 - 106 to 8.13 - 61 victory over old rivals Palm Beach-Currumbin Lions at Palm Beach on Saturday.
The Magpies had six forced changes to the 22 and coach Glenn Humphrey made several positional changes, moving Alex Dickfos to CHF and Brady Allen from wing to FF, entrusting the fullback position to Sean McEvoy and moving Hayden Thick into the ruck with Dom Beer.
Matt Davis remained across half back and Chris Hunt recovered quickly from an ankle injury at training on Thursday to take his place as a rebounding defender. Humphrey also backed the versatility of his players by moving regular CHB Doug Lawrence to the forward line when kicking with the wind to give the Pies added marking power and Allen was moved into defence against the wind. Both moves were successful and indeed the coaching panel's positional changes during the game all paid dividends and now give the Pies greater versatility in the coming weeks. A highlight was a piercing 60 metre goal from Brady Allen (a raking left-footer!!) in the second quarter, like a low flying tracer bullet.
The other pleasing aspect for the Pies brains trust was the faith they had in persisting with tall 17 year old forward Sam Copland, who rewarded them with a superb match. Copland booted 4 goals, had another shot which went through in the first quarter controversially given as a touched ball and his strong marking, both on the lead and in packs, and goal kicking, were highlights. He will be a prime candidate for this week's QAFL Rising Star Award.
The match was played in blustery sou-wester conditions with the wind favouring the right forward pocket at the northern end of the ground. The Pies lost the toss and therefore kicked against a 4 goal wind in the first quarter but were able to boot several goals against the wind to only trail by 9 points at quarter time. The Pies attack on the football was impressive and their tackling pressure forced many errors from the PBC team.
A dominant seven goal second quarter by the Pies while keeping the Lions goalless blew the game open and the Pies led by 35 points at half time. The Pies continued their work rate in the third quarter against the wind to restrict the Lions scoring and still had a 30 point lead at the last change. With the wind at their backs in the last quarter, the Pies were never going to be challenged by a tired looking home team which had been out-tackled and out-muscled in the first three-quarters by a determined and ruthless outfit.
Ruckmen Dom Beer and Hayden Thick dominated in ruck and gave midfielders Ben Jaenke-Cain and Co-Captains Lachlan Woods and Callum Carseldine first use of the football which put the Pies on the front foot. Woods had his best game for the year and as always his attack on the ball was ferocious but he also took several big marks and a long 50 metre goal against the wind in the third quarter was a steadier for the Pies after the Lions had booted 2 quick ones to narrow the lead to 3 goals. Carseldine laid 9 tackles in a typical in-and-under display which set the tone for the Pies. Jaenke-Cain was a workhorse all match and his efforts to push back to help in defence were important in breaking up many Lions attacks.
Matt Davis was arguably the Magpies best player with a controlled match across half back taking several timely marks and intercepts to halt the home team attacks and turn defence into attack. Davis has been rewarded for his big pre-season to be the Pies most consistent player to date this season.
The Mitchell brothers, Luke and Drew, were also good players for the Pies and Jai Humphrey on debut and Bryce Crossley on recall also did all that was asked of them.
Alex Dickfos continued his improvement as he gets close to his best and he responded to the Palm Beach's coach's pre-match assertion that the Pies' big forwards were not a major threat with 3 majors and played a robust game for the Pies, creating options with strong attack on the ball. Palm Beach applied hard tags on small forwards and their perceived danger men in Val Pope and Matt Thompson and the Pies brains trust countered this by running Pope in the midfield rotations and Thompson also had short spells up the ground. Pope was able to get plenty of the ball and as usual his clean handling was a highlight and he kicked 2 goals to cap a good game.
Coach Glenn Humphrey was a happy man after the game “We held them well in the first quarter, they had a fairly strong breeze. We took hold of them in the second and split them open a little bit.
“Our use of the football was good and we were really good in close in the second quarter.
“That just proves that we can match it with any side on our day, we just have to come switched on.”
The Pies have three important matches in coming weeks against Mt Gravatt, Sandgate and UQ but there are no easy matches in the QAFL now and the men from Chelmer will need to maintain their intensity. The Pies will be confident going into these games but need to be on their guard especially against Mt Gravatt this Saturday. The Magpies and Vultures have a long history going back to the South Queensland days and this Saturday will still be a tough contest and spells danger for the Pies if they don't bring their A game on the day.
Western Magpies 3.4 - 22 | 10.18 - 68 | 11.12 - 78 | 15.16 - 106
Palm Beach Currumbin 4.7 - 31 | 4.9 - 33 | 6.12 - 48 | 8.13 - 61
Goals: S.Copland 4, A.Dickfos 3, B.Allen 2, V.Pope 2, C.Carseldine, L.Woods, B.Jaenke-Cain, M.Thompson 1