The Western Magpies went down to a Morningside Panthers side full of attacking intent on Sunday afternoon at the Nest. The Magpies started the game strongly, matching the Panthers at the contest and enjoying similar possession and field position in the first quarter. However, the signs were there early as the Panthers ran in waves through the middle and kicking long and direct to their strong forward line who enjoyed a size advantage against their Magpie opponents.
Luke Scott and Alex Dickfos were providing strong targets forward, and when the ball came in quickly they were able to match or beat their opponents in the contest to create strong scoring opportunities. The quarter time score was 4.2 – 26 to 2.3 – 15 with the Panthers in front, but the Magpies did show hardness around the footy and didn’t finish off their work as they would have liked.
The 2nd quarter started as a bit of an arm wrestle, with the Magpies repeatedly showing an appetite at the contest and an ability to win the footy – but weren’t able to use the ball effectively to push forward. An unwillingness to take the game on was apparent and this resulted in slow ball movement, allowing the Panthers to get back in numbers and clog up the Magpie forward-line. When the inevitable turnover came, the Panthers pounced – attacking strongly from halfback, and running hard through the middle of the ground – launching several attacks up the corridor. While the Magpie defenders battled manfully under the weight of attack, eventually after 10 minutes the Panthers broke the deadlock and the floodgates opened, ironically when the Magpies tried to switch play back into the middle – no doubt making the side gun shy of a repeat. Dom Beer had been exceptional in the ruck, while Crawford and Carseldine repeatedly got first hands on the footy in the opening 40 minutes – but when the Panthers had a brief period of ascendancy at the stoppages they pounced, with 3 quick goals in succession as a result of quick exits from contests and getting the ball in the corridor before going long and direct to their tall forwards and kicking to advantage in one on one contests.
Doc Davis, Tim McEvoy and Luke Mitchell were working hard, but skill errors combined with a lack of options presenting themselves forced plenty of turnovers, particularly on the clubhouse wing, where the Magpies were repeatedly forced to kick long down the line. In contrast, the Panthers were spreading hard in defence and switching play to transition effectively before attacking the corridor and running hard to get handball receives through the middle. Late in the quarter, the message got through and the Magpies switched the ball multiple times to create scoring opportunities, including a late goal to Dickfos after good transitional play from the opposite back flank.
The 3rd quarter started positively with the Magpies winning the opening centre clearance and creating multiple scoring opportunities they should have finished, before some quality pressure from Rhys Bridge on the wing created a turnover and goal to Dickfos. The Magpies again won the next centre clearance and looked to attack wide but again moved the ball too slowly. The Panthers worked their way up the ground for a behind, before a poor turnover from the kick-out resulted in a goal to the Panthers (despite it being a clear behind, it was awarded a goal).
The Magpies midfield again won the next centre clearance and forced the ball forward and locked it in for repeat stoppages, before some quality inside work from Crawford forced the ball deep, leading to an answering goal from Rhys Bridge. At the next centre bounce, it was rinse and repeat for the Magpies midfield – again winning the clearance and forcing the ball inside 50. The game was played on even terms for the remaining 20 minutes of the quarter, with the Magpies having the better of Morningside around the stoppages, while the Panthers utilised their superior size up forward to create scoring opportunities.
Goals to Woods and Dickfos due to relentless pressure across the wing and half forward, particularly from Wenham with his outstanding tackling pressure were cancelled out by 2 goals from Panther talls. The Magpies repeatedly won the centre clearances to create opportunities, but unfortunately too often didn’t get the ball in quick enough and trust their teammates to win one on one contests, instead waiting (too) patiently for a free teammate to present themselves.
The result was the Magpies trailed at ¾ time by 35 points after kicking 4.3 to the Panthers 5.2 and having the better of the contested situations. However, any thought of a rally in the last quarter was put to bed when the Panthers won the opening clearance and locked the ball forward for the first 5 minutes of the quarter before converting their territorial advantage with a scrappy goal to go 42 points clear.
After dominating in the 3rd quarter centre clearances, the Magpies gave up 2 on the trot to start the last and the Panthers pushed forward again and locked it in for close to 10 minutes. Doc Davis, Lachy Woods and Luke Scott kept the Panthers at bay before the Magpies finally worked the ball forward for their first inside 50 at the 15 minute mark, but failed to convert a relatively simple chance in front of goal. Morningside swung the ball up through the middle quickly and the floodgates finally opened with another quality contested mark from a Panther tall resulted in a goal to put the result beyond doubt. The Magpies lost their ascendancy around the stoppages and 3 more quick goals followed as the Panthers opened them up through the middle of the ground, with the Magpies struggling to get the ball forward of 50 for most of the last quarter. A post siren goal to Dickfos after a rare forward entry resulted in a final margin of 62 points in favour of Morningside.
Dom Beer battled manfully in the ruck, regularly giving the Magpies first use – while Sondergeld was busy all over the ground and Crawford and Carseldine in particular were excellent in tight. It was in space where the Magpies couldn’t match their opponents on the day, not taking the game on and therefore leaving their forwards regularly outnumbered, in complete contrast to the Panthers side with their run and carry through the middle and willingness to run from half back to create opportunities through the corridor.
Western Magpies 2.4 – 15 | 3.6 -24 | 7.9 – 51 | 8.10 – 58
Morningside Panthers 4.2 – 26 | 8.6 – 54 | 13.8 – 86 | 18.12 – 120
Best: Beer, Sondergeld, Woods, McEvoy, Maricic, Davis
Goals: Dickfos 4, Sondergeld, Bridge, Woods, Scott 1