The Western Magpies have saved their worst performance of the year for their biggest game of the year to date to go down to a slicker Surfers Paradise at Surfers Paradise. As a result, a season that promised so much has seen the Magpies drop to sixth on the QAFL ladder and out of the finals.
It was a bitter end to what could have been a great year but the Pies paid the price for several narrow losses throughout the year, any one of which could have been the one extra victory that would have secured the double chance for the Pies. The reward for winning on Saturday would have been third place but the Magpies appeared to feel the pressure of a do-or-die game and did not bring their A game on the day, while their opposition certainly did.
The Pies fought hard but went down by 21 points, 10.9-69 to 7.6-48, which was the second largest loss for the year and the Pies lowest score for the season
After starting in energetic fashion to boot the first three goals of the match, the Pies were not able to match the Demons in the midfield and the home team were cleaner in their hand and foot skills to pick their way through the Pies defence to level the scores by quarter time.
The second quarter was an arm wrestle and scores were level at half time but the Demons were looking more dangerous when going forward and it was only stout defence from Doug Lawrence, Brady Allen and Luke Mitchell which kept them at bay. The Pies also lamented several missed goal chances with crucial fumbles and poor execution and had they converted may have edged them in front at halftime and a different mindset going into the second half. An ankle injury to Riley Easton in the second quarter took some sting out of the Pies forward pressure and his pace was missed.
With the match up for grabs it was the home team which dominated from the outset in the third quarter, killing the Magpies around the ball as the young Surfers ruckman did as he pleased and Surfers subsequently dominated the inside 50s. The Pies just could get the ball out of their backline and when they did the Demons loose man across half back chopped the Pies attacks off. The home team held a 20 point lead at the final change which probably flattered the Pies and with only 5 goals o the board it was going to be a big ask to win from that point.
Coach Brydan Morgan threw caution to the wind with Doug Lawrence up forward and he did provide a target and the Pies managed to narrow the gap to 16 points and give hope to an unlikely win. However, Surfers kicked a sealer and the match finished without much sting as the Demons were finals bound and the Pies looked to 2019.
The Pies were beaten on the inside, in the air, lost the midfield contested ball and were beaten on the outside. The clean skills of just 2 weeks ago went missing under the pressure of a finals like match and perhaps the attrition of the past 6 weeks and having to keep on winning just wore the Pies down--they certainly looked tired and sore well before the siren sounded.
Luca Winton fought hard in defence despite copping a few solid knocks and Kale Reed was busy all game. Ben Jaenke-Cain had plenty of the ball especially in the first half, Doug Lawrence was strong in defence and kept Danny Green to 3 goals and Liam Dwyer battled hard at CHF and then when in the ruck.
The Pies had losses of 6, 18, 12, 18, 26, 4 and 21 points and did not win any of the close matches they contested this season. In five of the losses, the game was in the balance 25 minutes into the last quarter but the Pies could not edge in front in any of the close games. The average losing margin was just 14 points in a season that leaves many thinking 'what could have been?'
Surfers Paradise 3.2-20 | 5.3-33 | 8.7-55 | 10.9-69
Western Magpies 3.1-19 | 5.3-33 | 5.5-35 | 7.6-48
Best: B. Jaenke-Cain, L. Winton, K. Reed, L. Dwyer, D. Lawrence
Goals: J. De Winter 2, W. Johnson, K. Reed, B. Jaenke-Cain, L. Dwyer, D. Lawrence