The Western Magpies had a disappointing exit from the finals after saving their worst performance for the year when thrashed by Palm Beach-Currumbin in the QAFL Preliminary Final at Aspley on Saturday.
In blustery cross wind conditions in the first half then rain early in the third quarter, the Pies struggled to adapt and after having squandered opportunities with the majority of the play in the first quarter with a slight wind advantage, were outplayed thereafter.
The Pies went down in their worst defeat of the year, 16.17-113 to 4.10-34.
The Lions were cleaner with their hands and feet and had the best of the midfield battles which allowed their fleet footed runners space and they opened up the Pies through the middle of the ground.
The Pies paid for every small fumble and mistake as PBC pounced and then with superior skills would sweep the ball forward and score. In fact if they had kicked straighter the loss would have been worse and while they did score several freak goals they also missed easy chances. If you had a nightmare on Friday night about the worst game imaginable it would have just about summarised Saturday afternoon.
The Pies selectors made some big brave calls pre-match, omitting Alex Dickfos and Gareth Crawford from the side and bringing in Lachlan Woods and Nick Barling.
Both competed well without putting a stamp on the match.
The Pies had the better of the early exchanges in the first quarter but fell into the trap of kicking the ball long to a contest and were unable to boot a goal despite numerous opportunities.
The early part of the second quarter was again tight with the Pies within striking distance mid-way through the quarter, but the Lions were able to break the match open with 4 successive goals before half time to hold a commanding 27 point lead at the long break. Rain bucketed down at halftime and early in the third quarter and in slippery conditions the task for the Pies even then was almost insurmountable. The Pies cause was not helped just before half time when defender Brady Allen injured his right knee when his foot slipped when kicking and he took no further part in the game.
The Magpies threw caution to the wind in the third quarter but did not get reward for effort and again PBC made them pay for a fumble or turnover with goals in transition to have the match well in their keeping at three quarter time.
The margin was 41 points and coach Nathan Clarke reminded his players that in similar wet conditions they had come back from 6 goals down against Labrador to almost steal a famous victory and that nothing is impossible.
However it wasn’t to be as the Pies could not get on the scoreboard early in the quarter and in the last 20 minutes were going through the motions as the sting had gone out of the game.
The Pies did not have a winner on the day but Cal Carseldine battled hard as did Brenton Saunders with hustle and bustle to apply forward pressure. Luke Mitchell was tireless in mopping up down back and Tim McEvoy used his experience to try to stem the tide.
For the Pies it was a bitter end to a season and finals campaign that promised so much. The Pies can take small comfort from the fact they finished top three after a slow start to the season but cannot be satisfied with another early finals exit. Coach Nathan Clarke resurrected the Magpies season after taking the reins from Glenn Humphrey after round 5 and they were a genuine premiership chance before the wheels fell off on Saturday. On reflection the Pies were not playing great football in the past 6 weeks but to their credit in most matches found a way to win or remain in the contest to the final siren in matches they lost. There will be post season reviews to come and the Pies hierarchy will look at their shortcomings and try to rectify those in the off season if they are to seriously challenge at the business end of the season next year.
Senior Coach, Nathan Clarke had this to say:
“That’s where we were at. When good sides played well against us, we did struggle.
“I watched what Palm Beach did to Mt Gravatt last week, and I knew that we would have to play our absolute best to beat them.
“They beat us in the contested ball, an area the club has prided themselves on for a while, so full credit to them, and good luck to them.
“I’m proud of our guys. We were seventh when I took over. We have just struggled finding a key defender, but the way that the boys fought out all year was terrific. Today doesn’t diminish anything.
“They are as good of a team as I have coached in terms of effort. What they do is extraordinary.”
AFLQ writer Andrew Wiles had the following to say:
Magpies can hang their heads high: Look, it definitely wasn’t the way they wanted their season to end, but they can be proud of what they have achieved this year. You don’t make a prelim by accident. They spent a lot of petrol tickets getting themselves back into the five after a slow start to 2016, and I think today showed that. They just ran out of legs.
Western Magpies 0.3 - 3 | 3.3 - 21 | 4.7 - 31 | 4.10 - 34
PBC Lions 1.4 - 10 | 7.6 - 48 | 10.12 - 72 | 16.17 - 113
Best: Carseldine, Saunders, L.Mitchell, McEvoy
Goals: Fletcher, Copland, D.Mitchell, Carseldine