Going into the round, Wests were the last team without a win. But not for a lack of effort; and they had a couple of narrow losses in the early rounds. But the breakthrough victory came on Saturday afternoon, when the Magpies travelled to Henson Park to take on UNSW-ES.
Not much separated the two sides in the first quarter. Both sides were backing themselves in the contests, leading to some attacking footy as two sides keen to make an impressions traded blows and were looking for the edge over the other. A quarter of footy in which the Magpies kicked four goals to three saw them take a ten point lead to the first change; but the game was still very much up for grabs.
But gradually as the second quarter drew on, slowly but surely, the Magpies began to find the run of play. The Bulldogs were hanging in there, and did manage three goals for the quarter. But the Magpies would draw twin flags from the goal umpires five times; their run ofgoals late in the term a fair reward for the efforts they’d put in as the lead was stretched to 24 points at half time.
As the third quarter unfolded, it was evident to all at the ground that this was the Magpies’ day. The black and white confidence was back, and they were turning on some of the footy that their faithful have been waiting to see. Another five goals would be forthcoming during the premiership quarter as the Magpies pushed away to a match-winning lead. The Bulldogs tried hard to hold back the tide, and would manage three goals for the quarter; but it wasn’t enough to prevent a Wests lead of 35 points at three quarter time.
The game was safely won, and all the Magpies had to do was go through the motions of the final quarter before they could finally bask in the spoils of victory. The Bulldogs would win the last quarter by three goals to one, salvaging some percentage from what had been a disappointing afternoon for them. But this was the Magpies’ day, and the sense of relief from the black and whites was as tangible as the volume in which their song resonated from the rooms after the match was over.
With the need to post a winning score paramount for the Magpies, coach Nick Salter led from the front; the former Port Adelaide player finishing with eight goals, while Ben Zoppo also proved a handy target to contribute four goals to the cause. Around the ground, Dan O’Connell, Charles Ford and Salter played pivotal roles to get the Magpies home. After twice coming close, finally the Magpies have their first win and are off the bottom; and the self-belief that comes from a win like this may trigger more victories in the weeks to come.
It wasn’t the Bulldogs’ day. Darcy Cordell, Justin Cann and Tom Banuelos kept putting in all day, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a 26-point defeat. The Bulldogs are still up there on the ladder, three wins and two losses so far this season; but the four points they would have been hoping for in this game weren’t forthcoming.
Henson Park will be the venue for UNSW-ES’ clash against Wests; two clubs who were the bottom two last season but have shown plenty of improvement so far in 2017.
The Bulldogs are sitting on three wins and one loss, and have played some good footy so far this season. Last week they were very impressive in knocking off Pennant Hills; and will relish the chance to be back at Henson this Saturday. Long-time clubman Jeremy Daniher has been in good form this season, while Sam Wilson has made a name for himself on the forward line.
Wests are the only team yet to win a game this season, but not through a lack of effort. They’ve come close twice, and were an agonising six points short against East Coast last week. Some heroics from Ben Zoppo, who kicked eight goals, went a long way for the Magpies; and the Bulldog defenders will have their work cut out against an in-form forward. Also around the ground, Yannick Milligan-Saville can generate plenty of excitement for the Magpies; he’s always one to keep an eye on.
The Bulldogs have three wins already, as many as they won in all of last year; and will be keen to go one better this time round. But they’ll be up against a Wests side who are a bit stiff to be winless so far; and the Magpies will be desperate for the chance to sing their song after this game.
Courtesy of Sydney AFL
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