The prelim drubbing the Magpies copped at the hands of Palm Beach was a terrible way to finish the year. A loss in the penultimate week is never easy to swallow no matter what the margin is, but that loss wasn’t a true reflection of the year. Yes, it was a little turbulent early which resulted in a change of coach after round 6, but from that point they were one of the most dangerous teams in the competition. They still had their trademark contested ball work, but this year played a lot more positively in transition. 12 wins and six losses was a good result for the home and away season, especially after being three and three early on. Overall, it was a good year for the Magpies. Were there a few blemishes? Yes… but you don’t stumble into the prelim final by accident.
Going down to Palm Beach Currumbin in the first week of the finals against a Lions team who were very disappointed about letting top spot slip the week before, that’s as hostile as it gets. To then hold on against a team emptying the tank in the final minutes was a gritty, never say die win against the odds, and one they should remember next year when it gets tight.
Coughing up a 24-point lead 10 minutes into the fourth quarter against Broadbeach in round 4 left them scratching their heads as to what just happened. Their 79-point loss at the hands of Palm Beach in the prelim was definitely not the way their season deserved to end, but that’s footy.
What they will take from 2016:
The balance is just about there. Last year it was heavily geared towards defence. This year it was a little more offensive. If new coach Brydan Morgan follows the same development path next year, they wont be far from nailing that mix of defending first, locking down the opponent, and then all out attacking. They weren’t able to win a final last year, so to get one this year is a positive.
Cal Carseldine was once again the main man in the middle all year, putting in another outstanding season. Gareth Crawford was handy, especially early on in the year, Luke Scott was the best swingman in the comp (again), and Val Pope had his fair share of moments.
Charlie Pershouse is one of the best young defenders in the competition, Sam Copland had a good year at centre half forward, and Rhys Bridge played some outstanding footy this year. The pressure he is able to put on the ball carrier is immense.
What they need for 2017:
They lack a little bit of pace through the middle, so a line-breaking mid who wins his own footy would be great. If Staker goes around again, which we think he will, their forward line looks strong, so a big bodied key back who eases pressure on Pershouse, Hunt and Scott would transform the aesthetics of their back six.
By Andrew Wiles