Top four hold Magpies at bay

June 20, 2017

NUMURKAH has shown Moama the level the Magpies need to take their game to if they want to compete with the big boys in the Murray Football League.

The Magpies looked up and about early on Saturday against the Blues in a fiery clash at the Moama Recreation Reserve, but were blitzed in the second quarter.

The strength and experience of the Blues proved too much to overcome as the Magpies suffered a 37-point loss.

The defeat was a reminder that the competition’s top echelon is currently a step above Moama, with the side now having lost each of its encounters with the top four sides.

Moama coach Mark Lloyd said being competitive with the best form team in the league was encouraging but his side was still looking to take steps forward to beat top four teams.

‘‘We’re not far off but we’re not there just yet,’’ he said.

‘‘The upside is we’re only halfway through the season; we’ve got a lot of weeks to get it right.

‘‘We’ve got to try and get some more wins and make sure we’ve got that spot in the top six.’’

Things looked bright early however, Dylan Pinney kicking the contest’s first goal after great play from Noah Wheeler to set him free on goal.

Numurkah responded and locked the ball in its own forward half for much of the quarter and kicked two goals before Dylan Russell capitalised on a turnover to knot the scores up. Cooper Barber goaled soon after to restore a Magpies’ lead.

The first term ebbed and flowed and the Blues had the answers. A Nathan Hicks goal shortly before quarter-time gave them a 25-19 lead.

Moama made the majority of the play and should have led at the break, a few forgettable moments costing it the lead.

But it could not stop its opponent in the next period as Numurkah ran all over the top of the Magpies, dominating every area of the ground in a five goals to nil quarter.

The Magpies couldn’t get their hands on the ball and when they did the intense tackling pressure meant they could not string any play together.

They didn’t register a single score for the quarter and went to half-time trailing by 37 points.

‘‘They really lifted their work rate and intensity and we couldn’t match it with them,’’ Lloyd said.

‘‘They got lots of run off that half-back line. They switched it well in their back half and were able to attack through the middle of the ground.

‘‘They play a similar game plan to us but they did it better in that second quarter.’’

Winning the ball out of the centre became a priority for Moama in the second half and it did just that to kick the first goal of the half just seconds in through Ben Welch.

Liam Ritchie goaled on the run soon after to cut the lead to 25 points, the energy lifting for the home side as it attempted to chase down one of the league’s best.

The intensity went up a notch as several fights broke out across the ground through the quarter.

The Blues lifted to restore their advantage, looking dangerous every time they got the ball inside their forward line.

Lachlan Collins and Rhys Archard both kicked truly in the latter part of the third term to give the Magpies a sniff at the final change, but the Blues locked the game up with the first two goals of the final quarter.

Tyler Jones goaled late in his first game back from a long term injury, two goals soon after from Luke Eldridge cut the final margin to 37 points.

Mitch Eade was huge for the Magpies throughout the game with his work winning the ball out of the middle while the run and carry from Jordan Ives was also important as they tried to move the ball with pace.

‘‘Mitch has played more than 50 senior games now; in his early years they were all in the back pocket, but he’s had the opportunity through the middle of the ground and he’s flourished,’’ Lloyd said.

‘‘He gave us his best game of the season yesterday, we’re really happy with how he went about it and he’s a big part of the future of the club.’’

Lloyd said Jones’ return from a knee reconstruction had been ticked off on Friday night after more than a month of training.

‘‘It’s a huge positive for the club and for Tyler. Twelve months out is a long time and that was almost like his first practice match,’’ he said.

‘‘It was a baptism of fire against maybe the most in-form side in the league, he played through the midfield just to concentrate on playing some football and he pulled up really well.

‘‘We can’t expect too much from him in the first three or four weeks, but he brings a lot to the team.’’

With Nathalia’s loss after the siren to Mulwala, Numurkah is now only percentage behind the ladder-topping Purples.

Moama travels to face Finley next Saturday in what should be a comfortable win against an 0-10 Cats line-up.

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