UNDEFEATED LABRADOR 'SAVED BY THE BELL'
A brave and undermanned Western Magpies came very close to inflicting undefeated Labrador’s first defeat since 2016in a tough encounter at Chelmer on Saturday.
The Pies staged a remarkable comeback in the last quarter after trailing at three quarter time by 22 points. The Pies booted 6 unanswered goals, 4 in the first 6 minutes of the last quarter to take a 15 point lead but were unable to hold on and went down in a nail biter by 5 points.
At twist in the tail occurred when Pies small forward Brenton Saunders roved a hurried kick into the forward line at the 32 minute mark of the final quarter and as the siren sounded snapped truly for a goal to give the Pies a 1 point win. However the kick was correctly deemed to have occurred a split second after the siren and the goal did not count.
The luckless Pies went down 13.12-90 to Labrador’s 14.11-95.
Down to 20 men by half time after midfielder Brodie Easton was concussed at the 15 minute mark of the game after being felled late after taking a mark and ruckman Dom Beer battled on gamely until half time with a shoulder injury, the young Magpies showed remarkable toughness and resilience to fight back and nearly cause the upset of the season to keep their finals hopes alive. It was a gutsy performance also given the Pies long injury list which has decimated them recently.
Unfortunately for the Magpies they are now out of the finals race with their last match against Morningside being academic before a last round bye.
The first ten minutes of the match was a case of how far the Tigers as they got away to a fast start, booting 4 goals before the Magpies knew what hit them.
The Pies then settled and were able to contain the more fancied rivals and an arm wrestle then ensued for two and half quarters.
It was tough uncompromising football and Pies 200 gamer Val Pope said if it was one of the hardest games he has played in the black and white.
By quarter time the Pies were 5 goals down but from half way through the first quarter until ¾ time the Pies matched the Tigers with 6 goals each and kept Labrador goalless in the second quarter.
The start of the last quarter saw the Pies explode out of the centre with young ruckmen Aaron Highlands and Liam Dwyer getting on top and Gareth Crawford and Logan Murray pushing the ball forward with bullocking play. The Pies were able to scramble early goals from packs then with their confidence up were well on top to go to a 15 point lead at the 20 minute mark of the quarter. With a huge upset on the cards the experienced Tigers lifted and were able to transition the ball forward for 4 goals to wrest the lead back to 11 points. Some of the more experienced Tigers showed their class to create goals from half chances, which was telling in the end. A late Pies goal closed the gap and then the exciting last 30 seconds saw the disallowed Saunders goal.
Gareth Crawford continued his good form with plenty of tough contested possessions in midfield and 16 year old Queensland representative Caleb Franks showed maturity and toughness beyond his years to boot 3 goals and be a livewire up forward. Logan Murray was tough in the clinches and won plenty of contested possession in midfield to have his best game of the season.
Mitchell Stallard showed he is all class with a polished display off half back in his return match following further foot surgery and Harry Marshall largely kept a tight rein on the Tigers key forward Bryce Retzlaff, conceding four goals but for the most part matching his highly credentialed opponent despite an obvious size differential.
Brady Allen, out of sorts early, responded to a quarter time serve from coach Brydan Morgan to become a key defender and was instrumental in shutting down many Tiger forward thrusts. Highlands and Dwyer worked hard in ruck and then across half forward to both be fine contributors.
The Pies’ gutsy effort was all the more meritorious considering they came off a shellacking last week and were missing the injured skipper Drew Mitchell, Charlie Pershouse, Lachie Dennis, David Lewis, Joe Murphy, Aaron Maricic, Will Fletcher and Sam Copland with Jack Goodall back at Redlands and Chris Hunt taking some time off.
The Pies travel to Hawthorne on Saturday to meet Morningside, and while the result is academic, they will be looking to send the Panthers into the finals with a loss. Coach Morgan will be asking for one final effort from his team to finish off a frustrating season with another positive display from this young team.
Coach’s thoughts: Brydan Morgan:
“Disappointed in the final result but immensely proud of the boys considering we had a limited bench for most of the game. They responded to the challenge I put to them at quarter time to be hard at the ball and fight for every possession and I could not have asked more of them.
They were totally spent at the end of the game but could walk off with their heads held high.
After losing Brodie Easton, Logan Murray played a tagging role on Hicks, and Aaron Highlands playing a defensive forward role on Mills and both played their role for the team which was crucial in setting up a great performance from the team as a whole. Crawford was again good in the middle, Marshall did a good job once again on a bigger opponent and young Franks showed he has what it takes at this level.
It has been tough in recent weeks with injuries but this team has showed resilience time and again and in terms of experience and games played would be by far the youngest team in the QAFL and have been in the finals race since Round 1.
Disappointed we will miss finals and some costly losses early in the year to Grange and Broadbeach seriously impacted on our season.
I am hopeful of keeping most of the squad together next year and with some promising youngsters in the Colts to come through and some bigger bodied recruits on the horizon will be well placed in 2018.”
Goal Kickers: C. Franks 3, J. De Winter 2, M. Stallard, B. Easton, B. Saunders, V. Pope, W. Johnson, R. Easton, B. Jaenke-Cain, G. Crawford
Best Players: G. Crawford, L. Murray, H. Marshall, A. Highlands, B. Allen, C. Franks