A poor first half coast the Western Magpies a win against defending premiers Labrador at Chelmer on Saturday. A goalless first half and trailing by 46 points early in the third quarter the Pies then launched a third quarter comeback but were pipped at the post to go down by 3 points, 9.8-62 to 8.11-59 after dominating the final quarter but kicking 2.5 to 0.1
The match was a game of two halves as Labrador dominated the first half and the Magpies the second half in a hard slog played in wet and slippery conditions. The Pies first half was ordinary as they made fundamental errors in the wet conditions, trying to play dry weather football and paid the price with several costly turnovers.
The Pies lost key forward Brent Staker with an ankle injury in the second quarter and while the Pies were held goalless in the first half, they had several opportunities they couldn't capitalise on.
The Tigers led by 40 points at half time and then booted the first goal of the third quarter to hold what appeared to be an unassailable 46 point lead in wet conditions. With Alex Dickfos out with injury the Pies were missing their two key forwards so Brady Allen was swung into CHF and swingman Luke Scott also moved forward by coach Nathan Clark.
Allen was able to boot 3 goals in the third quarter, two of which were his trademark 50 metre bombs, all the more impressive this time due to the wet and heavy ball. The spark for the Pies comeback also came from the midfield where Callum Carseldine, Lachlan Woods and Gareth Crawford wrested control in the tough conditions. Earlier Labrador had been on top in the middle but the pendulum swung the Pies way with sheer guts and determination not to go down without a fight. Six third quarter goals while keeping Labrador to 2 goals had the Pies back in the hunt, down by 19 points at the last change and with plenty of momentum.
The last quarter became a slogfest with the ball in the Pies forward line for long periods with several repeat entries, while Labrador managed just 3 inside 50's for the quarter. Two goals with 15 minutes to go had the Pies down by 3 points and looking the likely victors but they just could not get the final goal as Labrador were impressive with their last line defense to thwart the Magpie onslaught. The match had a final twist as Lachlan Woods had a shot from 55 metres after the siren but his kick fell short—it would have been a monumental kick in the dry let alone in the wet.
Allen finished with 4 goals to highlight his versatility and Tim McEvoy gave sterling service in defence and was also pushed forward for several stints and Richard Wenham also won plenty of the ball in the tight and contested conditions.
The senior coach had this to say after the tough loss
“We made a couple of silly errors early and it cost us; switching play in the wet and stuff like that.
“They certainly deserved to win, but I was proud of the way we fought back.
“Hard to score on wet days, and it was eight goals to nil at one stage, so it’s a credit to the group to get back in to it.
“It was an opportunity to get a two game buffer on Labrador but now we are in the fight, but as I said they deserved to win yesterday, no doubt about it
The QAFL ladder at the top is tight, congested and volatile—the Pies loss was costly as they drop from second to fifth place on percentage. The final make up of the five is far from settled and there are a number of big clashes in the final rounds involving all finals contenders that will make it an absorbing final four rounds.
The flag race is wide open and the Pies face a danger game at Broadbeach in a fortnight after they enjoy a bye this weekend.
Labrador Tigers 4.2 - 26 | 7.4 - 46 | 9.7 - 61 | 9.8 - 62
Western Magpies 0.2 - 2 | 0.6 - 6 | 6.6 - 42 | 8.11 - 59
Best: Carseldine, McEvoy, Crawford, Woods, Wenham, Allen
Goals: Allen 4, Scott 2, Woods, Stallard