A CONVERSION factor, or lack it it to be more precise, is something the Western Magpies are going to have to work hard on if they are to feature in this year’s premiership.
By Terry Wilson
That was the clear message delivered to coach Peter McClennan after the Magpies survived a major scare from Springwood at Lowe Oval on Saturday.
Springwood made the Magpies work overtime before the visitors prevailed to score by 16.10 (106) to 13.10 (88).
After the Magpies set up an early three-goal lead, there was never more than that between the sides as the Pumas put on a decent sort of a scrap in an entertaining match.
“They played some really good footy,” said McClennan of the Pumas.
“We were quite surprised by a couple of their younger blokes and they kept on coming at us each quarter.
“They crowded, which was their game plan, and they stuck to it.
“But we didn’t execute well at all. We had something like 50-plus inside 50s, but kicked only 16 goals – under not much pressure – so we have some areas we have to pick up on.
“But take nothing away from Springwood.”
Former St Kilda-listed Ed McDonnell had a cracking game at centre half-back for the Magpies, marking surely at crucial moments as well as adding plenty of run out of defence.
Ben Heffernan-Roper on a wing, rising young ruckman Hayden Thick and Val Pope were other strong contributors for the winners.
Springwood football manager Adrian Wallin said leg speed and ‘a bit of ability’ among his young players kept the Pumas right in the game to the stage, late in the final term, the home side trailed by only two goals.
A good match-up in size was behind the improvement, he believes.
“We have been monstered by bigger sides lately, but we matched up okay with the Magpies, who are not too big around the ground,” said Wallin.
Defender Matt Hockley landed Springwood’s best player award, ahead of half-back flanker Malcolm Vincent and centre half-back Matt Preston-Smith.