SUPER COMEBACK SNARES MAGPIES THRILLER
Saturday 13 September 2008
The Western Magpies celebrated their return to the State League next year with a stunning come-from-behind win over hot favourites Palm Beach-Currumbin in the Pineapple Hotel Cup grand final at Broadbeach today.
The Magpies trailed by 40 points early in the third quarter, but ran the Lions off their legs to register a thrilling 16.8 (104)-14.17 (101) triumph.
It was the Chelmer-based Magpies’ second premiership in three years and was the perfect way to finish their four-year stint in Division Two.
Magpies wingman James Rozynski won the Ray Poulter Medal for best-on-ground as his side’s only four-quarter performer.
The black-and-whites had several heroes, however, with Richard Wenham the architect of the comeback, Gerard Moore assisting him, and Luke Scott providing the heroics at the finish.
It all looked so different in the first half, with the Lions – who had won 42 of their previous 43 matches – dominating but wasting opportunities to put the game out of reach.
They dominated the first term kicking with the strong wind that favoured the Merrimac school end of the ground, generating 12 scoring shots to two and leading 6.6-2.0 at the first break.
While the young Magpies were surprisingly static in the second quarter, the more experienced Lions calmed chipped the ball around to milk the clock and kicked 2.2-3.2 for the quarter to maintain a strong advantage.
With James Drake dominating in defence, half-back Matt Fyfe mopping up anything that happened to get past Drake, and Korey Fulton lively across half-forward, the Lions appeared in full control.
The only worrying sign for the minor premiers was a couple of players cramping up in the windy but humid conditions near halftime.
They bounced out of the blocks with the aid of the wind again in the third term and peppered the goals.
The Magpies had obviously made a vow to run and carry the ball at all costs and provided stiffer opposition, but only wayward shooting at goal by the Lions prevented the margin being greater than 40 points.
Midway through the quarter, teenager Wenham stood up to be counted.
Roving to 17-year-old Moore, who was hugely impressive at the bounces and around the ground, Wenham won three centre clearances and pumped the ball forward for Josh Barton to get on the end of.
Barton booted three goals in as many minutes and when Scott joined the action a minute later, the margin had been whittled back to 14 points.
The Lions hit back with a goal almost immediately, but wasted three late opportunities to stretch the margin to 23 points at the final change.
They had sprayed 4.9 for the quarter compared to the fit young Magpies’ 5.4 and a game that had given little value for the 2500-plus spectators was suddenly very much alive.
Rozynski had been good all day but he stepped up another notch in the final term and 20 minutes into the quarter, the Magpies hit the front for the first time in the game.
The Lions weren’t done with yet – winning the next centre clearance and pumping the ball into the goalsquare.
Rather than concede a behind with the margin just two points in their favour, the Magpies defenders tried to keep the ball alive, and Palm Beach skipper Matt Carroll got the hotly contested ball and put his side back in front.
There was plenty more drama left yet, with the Magpies winning the next centre clearance and Scott taking a sensational mark three-deep in a pack just 20m from goal on a 45 degree angle.
However, the big pack crashed down on important key forward David Hamill’s ankle, and the game was held up for five minutes while he was stretchered from the ground.
A jittery Scott sprayed the shot, much to his dismay and the large, vocal contingent of Magpies supporters who had made the trip to the Gold Coast.
The ball swung between the two half-back lines until at the 31-minute mark, Scott’s world turned rightside up when he crashed into a pack, grabbed the ball, and snapped a blinder to put his side three points up.
Both sides threw themselves at the ball with reckless abandon for the next two minutes before the final siren sounded on what proved to be a remarkable last 45 minutes.
The Magpies had kicked 6.2-2.0 in the final quarter and grabbed the glory. They could rightly point out that they are deserving champions because it was the Magpies who inflicted a 12-goal defeat on the Lions in the middle of the season.
Scott and Adam Gillespie finished with three goals and Barton with five for the victors, while Fulton kicked four for the Lions and won a points decision over tenacious Magpies half-back Matt Skubis.
Drake and Brent Rhynehart were outstanding for Palm Beach, but their side did not have the fitness at the end of the day to match the young Magpies on the big Merrimac surface.
Western Magpies, 2.0, 5.2, 10.6, 16.8 (104)
Palm Beach-Currumbin, 6.6, 8.8, 12.17, 14.17 (101)
Goals, Magpies: Joshua Barton 5, Luke Scott 3, Adam Gillespie 3, David Hamill 2, Val Pope, Matthew Fowler, Matthew Thompson 1. Lions: Korey Fulton 4, Matt Carroll 2, Darryl Dyson 2, Greg Pires 2, Adrian Hill, Josh McLoughlin, Nic Baker, Arnold Knight 1.
Best, Magpies: James Rozynski, Luke Scott, Val Pope, Chris Judson, Richard Wenham, Gerard Moore. Lions: Brent Rynehart, Matt Flynn, James Drake, Matt Fife, Korey Fulton, Josh McLoughlin.