The Western Magpies were defeated by 22 points by Labrador in the QAFL Second Semi Final at Labrador on Saturday.
The Pies were like a misfiring V8, spluttering on 6 cylinders and the 6 cylinders weren't exactly in tune either!!
The bad news is the Pies lost a game they could have won. The good news is they get another chance next Saturday and despite the fact that they have not been playing at their best and have a few players down on form - they still play for a spot in the Grand Final next week. Pleasingly, while they were off the pace on Saturday, the Pies never let Labrador off the leash and were like a dog with a bone -- this side just keeps grinding away and every opposition player knows they won't go away. Losing by the relatively slim margin of 22 points after a spluttering display should give the group confidence that their best football is definitely good enough.
As QAFL reporter Andrew Wiles suggested, the Pies just keep coming-- "The Magpies just hang around: Even when things aren’t going their way, they are never out of it. They have got a lot of players with a lot of ticker. To beat them, you have to be on all afternoon, because if you ease off, they will pounce".
The final scoreline was 16.14-110 to 13.10-88 but the Pies gifted Labrador 4 goals with basic errors or turnovers in the defensive 50, and also missed a couple of sitters in front of goal. This proved to be the difference in the final analysis.
In mild blustery conditions that were benign for the Labrador ground and did not favour either end, the Pies were out of the blocks in the first 10 minutes, booting the first 2 goals of the game then allowing the Tigers a reply before booting a third. One early goal was from Brent Staker who won a free kick after being manhandled and despite several similar infringements during the game that was the only free kick he was awarded for the match - a consistent theme in recent outings.
The home team then consolidated and attacked for the rest of the quarter to first peg the Pies back then go to a 15 point lead at quarter time.
It was catch up football for the Pies from then on and whenever they looked like closing the gap the Tigers had an answer. The lead was often in the 3 to 4 goal range and the elastic band at times looked like it would break but to their credit the Pies never gave up and would boot a timely goal to give their supporters faint hope of a comeback.
After half time the Pies would mount an assault and kick a goal to narrow the gap, then through hard work seem on course to boot another to put some doubts in the home team's psyche, but then cough up possession and the Tigers would boot an easy goal to release the pressure and keep the margin and their confidence up.
Best players for the Magpies were Drew Mitchell and Cal Carseldine in the midfield, both winning plenty of hard ball gets then also proving to be good link up players. Both also were strong when resting across half forward.
Luke Scott tried hard to lift his teammates and he bobbed up all over the ground but was a rock across half back and then linked through the middle of the ground.
Rover Matt Sondergeld was frenetic as usual and attacked the contest with gay abandon at times and put his body on the line time and again.
David Lewis again played a strong game in defence with good spoiling and then winning tough football at ground level. He has been in fine form in the latter half of the season.
Jadan Morton also broke even in ruck and Ben Jaenke-Cain worked hard as usual. The Pies were well beaten on the outside run and in all honesty the Pies midfield lowered their colours to Labrador
The other statistic the Pies can both be unhappy and happy about in a convoluted way is that they missed 47 tackles for the match and were beaten in the middle of the ground.
Tighten up in both these areas, reduce the turnovers and the Pies are more than capable of defeating Labrador.
However, the next task is to overcome Palm Beach-Currumbin, easy winners on Sunday over Mt Gravatt, in the sudden death Preliminary Final next Saturday to earn another crack at the Tigers a week later in the Grand Final.
Coach Nathan Clarke and his selectors have a difficult yet enviable task selecting the bestteam this week with Co-Captain Lachlan Woods and key defender Chris Hunt likely to be fit after missing with injury, half back Will Fletcher in the mix after being omitted this week and a host of other quality options ready to go if needed.
The AFLQ has again decreed the Magpies home ground at Chelmer is not up to standard to host a QAFL finals match and with Yeronga booked for a QFA Grand Final next week the venue for next week's Preliminary Final is yet to be announced.
Hopefully the AFLQ selecta venue in consultation with the Magpies heirarchy to acknowledge the Western Magpies as the club with hosting rights after defeating PBC last week.
Nathan Clarke – Western Magpies
“Today was one that got away. Labrador definitely deserved to win though, and were the better team all day.
“We were beaten around the stoppages all afternoon, which was disappointing.
“We just didn’t play that well to put it simply, but we have just got to butter up, see who we are playing next week, and learn from today.
“I think our forward line needs to be re-wired; it just hasn’t fully clicked into gear for probably a month.
“It’s business as usual though. We gave ourselves every opportunity leading up to it, we just had a few too many players not playing well enough.”
Labrador Tigers 5.4 - 34 | 9.7 - 61 | 12.10 - 82 | 16.14 - 100
Western Magpies 3.1 - 19 | 6.2 - 38 | 9.4 - 58 | 13.10 - 88
Goals: Staker 3, Sondergeld, Copland, Saunders 2, Easton, Carseldine, Jeanke-Cain, D.Mitchell 1
Best: D.Mitchell, Carseldine, Lewis, Sondergeld, Scott, Morton