The Western Magpies have lost another close match by less than a kick when they were defeated by last season's runner-up Broadbeach by 4 points at McCarthy Homes Oval at Chelmer on Saturday. Played in perfect conditions, the Pies, missing several key players, looked down and out at the 10 minute mark of the third quarter but dug deep to stay in the match and then fought back to almost snatch victory in a nail-biting last quarter with the vocal crowd on the edge of their seats. It was a huge improvement on the previous week, but the Pies will soon need to learn to win the close ones.
The Magpies started brightly enough and were keen to put the poor performance last week behind them and with Aaron Highlands a target up forward skipped 3 goals ahead but Broadbeach snared two late goals to close the gap at quarter time. Highlands had 3 on the board by quarter time and looked up and about after missing the previous week.
In an arm wrestle in the second quarter Broadbeach started to win the clinches and with some good outside run were 11 points up at half time, as the Pies repeatedly failed to make use of their forward entries by getting the ball to ground.
The Pies needed the first goals after half time but it was the Cats who opened the scoring with two early goals (both from horrendous decisions from the umpires in another sense of deja vu from the corresponding game last year) and with the Pies now 4 goals down, the game was slipping away. At this point the Pies looked ti be in trouble but they all dug deep and fought back to kick a couple of vital goals to stay in the contest.
Trailing by 22 points at the last change the Pies mounted a fightback and with Gareth Crawford winning some hard ball in the midfield and Dan Edwards and Macauley Lonergan productive on the wings the Pies closed to within 4 points before a late Cats goal got them 10 points clear. Another Pies goal closed the gap and in a tense last 4 minutes the winning goal eluded the Pies. The Magpies had several chances going forward but they lost some composure and the opportunities evaporated, with one in particular a likely 12 point turnaround.
Still, it was a much improved effort from the Magpies and the pleasing aspect is that all the young players in the side were fine contributors in the match. Dan Edwards was a shining light on a wing and gave away height and weight to his opponent but proved up to the task with a fine display and good ball use. Teenage half backs Ethan Sivijs and Riley Greene were strong and their attack on the football was a highlight and 19 year old Macauley Lonergan played another energetic game to be in the best players, using his agility and pace to advantage.
At the other end of the age spectrum, Gareth Crawford reminded all of his ability to win the tough inside football and also why he won a major league B & F medal in country Victoria as well as a Bill Peirce Medal in 2017 with a typical non stop display with plenty of second and third efforts, with his zip and speed around the packs a real feature.
Luca Winton was superb at fullback on ex-Magpie/Sherwood Junior and QAFL Leading Goalkicker in 2018 Matt Fowler and kept the spearhead and Broadbeach Captain to 3 goals but won many contests to be a fine player. Fowler commented it was one of the hardest days he has had at the office for a while. Harry Marshall was worthy of his recall as he did good job on ex Collingwood player Jason Cloke and in one effort stopped a certain goal with great attack on the ball player that at the time kept the Pies in the game.
Aaron Highlands competed strongly at CHF and finished with 3 goals and Jayden Gallagher as a rebounding defender had his best game for the Pies to date. Gallagher could be best described as a "raking left-footer" which he uses to good effect.
Coach Brydan Morgan was happy with his side's effort and workrate but he was spent after the natch as he said these sort of matches take a lot out of a coach and there have been too many of these matches for the Pies in the past year and a half!
Next week the Pies have a chance to return to the winners list when they travel to Sandgate and will welcome back key talls in Brody Lumber and Jack Goodall and have several other players who could return from NEAFL duties as well as several Reserves players who may come under consideration after some strong form.
Magpies 4.1 - 25 | 5.3 - 33 | 7.4 - 46 | 11.6 - 72
Cats 3.3 - 21 | 6.8 - 44 | 9.14 - 68 | 10.16 - 76
Best: Crawford, Edwards, Lonergan, Highlands, Winton, Gallagher
Goals: Highlands 3, Austin, Lewis 2, Fletcher, Mitchell, Beams, Murray