As the old saying goes, "the cream always rises to the top". This was certainly the case with a vintage Val Pope performance against Mt Gravatt on Saturday.
Pope kicked 6 goals in a superb display as the Pies held on in a nail biting finish to win by 8 points, 15.7-97 to 13.11-89 at Mt Gravatt.
That Pope was also playing in the midfield rotations as well as up forward makes his 6 goals all the more noteworthy. When the game was on the line in the last quarter Pope, who was pushed forward after copping a hip knock, conjured 3 last quarter goals to give the Pies some leeway mid way through the last which proved the difference.
The overriding feeling at the end of the game from the Pies brains trust and supporters was that they had got out of jail against a committed Vultures outfit, as the home team had plenty of late chances to win the game, but couldn't quite finish their hard work.
Mt Gravatt were obviously stronger than the first round clash which saw the Pies 134 point victors. The Pies were out of the blocks early with 5 goals in a flash before the Vultures tightened up to match the Pies late in the first quarter.
The second quarter was an even affair as the Pies went into half time 19 points up.
Mt Gravatt dominated in the third quarter to draw level late in the quarter but luckily for the Magpies were wayward in their goal kicking. A late goal to Matt Thompson, who made the most of his opportunities with 4 goals for the match, allowed the Pies to have a 9 point buffer at the last break.
Pope then popped up with 2 quick goals to extend the lead and the Pies looked safe but Mt Gravatt continued to attack to reduce the lead to 4 points and two relatively easy shots went wide to let the Pies off the hook. Then Pope came to the party to finish off an outstanding match, booting the sealer late in the last.
The Vultures midfield matched the Pies as they had several inclusions including a tall ruckman who made Dom Beer and Hayden Thick work hard. Ben Jaenke-Cain and Aaron Maricic toiled hard through the middle of the ground and when Maricic was able to use his pace and run the Pies looked dangerous.
If Pope was the maestro up forward, Doug Lawrence was a superbconductor in the last line of defence with timely marks and spoils continuing his great form this season. Chris Hunt was also good across half back and Tom Michael presented all day across half forward and kicked a big last quarter goal when the Pies were under the pump.
Riley Easton was also busy with his harassing and tackling pressure on the wing.
The Magpies expected a fired up Mt Gravatt to be a tough opponent and that was how it panned out. That the Pies were still able to win with a number of prime movers down on the day was testament to their resilience and depth this year.
The Pies travel to Sandgate on Saturday and will be looking to consolidate second place on the ladder against the 9th placed Hawks.
Senior Coach - Glenn Humphrey
"It was a tough game, they definitely came to play.
We were good in the first quarter but then dropped off the pace a little bit, which allowed them to get back in the game, and then they played it on their terms.
Sometimes yoyu just have to win ugly, and we certainly did that today, which is good, it keeps us in second spot."
Western Magpies 5.2 - 32 | 9.3 -57 | 11.6 - 72 | 15.7 - 97
Mt. Gravatt Vultures 1.3 - 9 | 5.7 - 37 | 9.9 - 63 | 13.11 - 89
BEST: D.Lawrence, B.Jeanke-Cain, V.Pope, T.Michael, A.Maricic, C.Hunt
Goals: V.Pope 6, M.Thompson 4, A.Dickfos, T.Michael 2, S.Copland 1