By Beth Newman
It only took 17 seconds for the Magpies to fly out from under the radar in their Allied Pickfords Cup qualifying final at Salk Oval on Saturday.
The opening goal to the Magpies’ Kale Reed set the tone for the day, in what was eventually a 19.15 (129) – 9.11 (65) qualifying final win to the visitors.
It was all the Magpies, though, as they streaked away in the opening term, kicking 10 straight to Palm Beach’s 3.1.
It took them until deep into the second quarter to register a point, after 14 unblemished scores for the match.
But it wasn’t just straight kicking that put the Magpies on top, with their midfield a step above Palm Beach.
Names like Jimmy Rozynski, Tim McEvoy, Reid Dobson have all been there before and they showed exactly what is required in finals footy against the Lions.
Rozynski was on fire in the first and even when his influence was quelled later in the game, there was an endless stream of support acts ready to step up.
Those experienced heads proved the difference in the side, and Magpies coach, Craig St John, said they made his job far easier on Saturday.
“In finals footy, it’s sensational,” he said.
“They know where to push guys and where to run to.
“It takes a lot of pressure off me, not having to tell guys when to go to the bench. They just do it.”
Teenager Brady Allen finished with three goals, playing on the wing, adding to his artillery, having played both forward and back this season.
Allen’s performance under pressure belied a player of his age, a number that even St John said was easy to forget.
“We go a little hard on him sometimes and expect too much so we need to step back a little bit and let him play his own game a little bit,” he said.
“We’ve played him in a lot of different roles this year because he’s a kid so he’s got to learn a lot of different roles to see where he fits in the group.
“Wherever we think Brodie will give us value, we’ll move him to.”
One of the most ominous signs of the clinical display was the fact that they didn’t even need the league’s leading goal kicker, Anthony Corrie, to have a field day.
Reed stepped up with five, while Alex Dickfos had a serviceable three for the game.
Reed’s efforts reflected his side’s, with the small forward regularly left alone by the opposition in favour of some of the bigger name forwards, something that Magpies coach, Craig St John, said played into their hands.
“Kubby’s (Reed) been bobbing up a bit recently because they leave him unattended and everyone’s looking for the Corries and the Popes and Dickfos,” he said.
Someone’s got to get the easiest backman and Kubby got the prize this week.”
And with Matt Thompson waiting in the wings to return from a broken leg, after a super start to the season, their forward line potency can only get better.
Now facing Springwood at Lowe Oval for a spot in the grand final, St John said his side had timed its run perfectly, with nine wins on the trot now.
“It’s all about finals,” he said.
“There’s no use winning it in March, we’ve just been a slow build.”
“We’ll start to taper off our training and concentrate on structural work and patterns and hopefully that works for us.”
Ask Palm Beach coach, Daryn Cresswell, what went wrong for his side and he will give you six reasons why they struggled.
“Clint Kelly, Matt Carroll, Tim Fielding, Tyson Dyer Kristen Higgs, Shane Hutchinson,” he said.
“When it was all said and done we got taught a footy lesson about attack on the ball and dedication to teammates.
“They set the tone and continued the tone set by their experienced players and we had experience out and we were found wanting in a lot of areas today.”
The void that Kelly left in the Lions’ side was blatant in that opening term, with the home side lacking any real threatening target inside 50.
Cresswell put swingman, Jackson Emblem, in centre half- forward, in the second, which gave the Lions a focal point, but by then it was too late.
Defender Matt Derrick shouldered the load down back, and kept Val Pope quiet on a difficult day, while youngster Thomas Thynne showed his mettle, fighting all afternoon.
Palm Beach’s best attacker on a lean day, Nathan Carr, told the story of the day, finishing with three goals but butchering numerous chances.
While they might be feeling pretty despondent today, Cresswell is more than bullish about his team’s prospects on Sunday, in a sudden-death semi against either Surfers or Grange.
“This group has good character and they’ll bounce back in the right manner,” he said.
“ These players will win, doesn’t matter who they play, they’ll win.”