Magpies breakthrough victory
Denmark-Walpole coach Matt Candy has labelled his side’s upset win over top-two aspirant Mt Barker season-defining after the Magpies broke through for their first victory over an opposition above them on the ladder for the first time in nearly two seasons on Saturday.
The Magpies’ last five wins this year and last have had been against the lowly Albany, and they had suffered single-figure losses to Railways and Royals this season before Saturday’s breakthrough win.
The Magpies led by 14 points at half-time after a six-goal second term, and held off the fast-finishing Bulls to win their third game of the season, 11.9 (75) to 10.6 (66) at McLean Park.
Their gritty win over the near-full-strength Bulls pushed them into the top four on percentage to the delight of Candy after his side held off numerous second-half challenges to bank a vital four points.
“I was just really happy with the guys — they kept working hard and we ended up having a bit more in the tank,” he said.
“It was just a matter of getting the right team on the park and showing what we can do.”
A vital piece of the Magpies puzzle and a push for a return to finals will be key big man Shayne Zanetti, who proved influential in the ruck and up forward in his second game back after an injury-interrupted 2017.
The 2016 Kleemann Medal runner-up moved freely around the ground and took some telling marks in an enthralling battle with impressive Bulls ruckman Daniel Henderson.
While Zanetti and key midfielder Jaden Guidi have been vital acquisitions to the Magpies line-up this season, Candy saved plenty of praise for Tyler Stone, who booted four crucial goals against the competition’s best defender, Adam Tissott.
The Bulls were left to rue a second-quarter lapse in which the Magpies piled on six goals to three.
Despite the efforts of Henderson and impressive youngsters Joel Gray and Aidin Williss across the middle of the ground, the Magpies maintained their two-goal buffer throughout the second half and held off numerous challenges.
Bulls coach Brad Hook paid credit to the Magpies’ willingness to run.
“We knew it was going to be a danger game and we had talked about backing up our win against Railways, but Denmark were fantastic with their run and spread,” he said.
“We need to learn to get over the line in those close games.
“Every week you have to be turned on ready.”
Hook said the result was proof of how even the competition and places in the final four would be in the second half of the season.
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