Denmark-Walpole sounded a clear warning to their finals rivals by holding on to beat Railways by a point in the final round of the home and away season at Tigerland on Saturday.
The Magpies played an inspired brand of football on their way to their fifth straight win and also secured the home first semifinal this weekend for their sudden-death clash with North Albany. Magpies player-coach James McRae was blunt in his reaction after the match, believing his side’s best is still to come.
“Our best footy is still in front of us,” McRae said. “That was a good result, real reward for effort. They worked hard for a full four quarters.”
After a brilliant opening half by the visitors, the Magpies seemed to have all the answers in the second half with former Claremont colt Tyler Stone running rampant for the 2010 premiers. Stone continued to find the footy despite a heavy tag, and along with hardworking duo Simon Barker and Alec Haskins, helped the Magpies skip out to a 26-point advantage at the final break.
However, the Tigers finally began to show the form that has kept them at the top of the ladder for much of the season, kicking the first goal of the final term.
The Tigers quickly booted four in a row following Dean Benson’s running goal to snatch a two-point lead but a rushed behind and behinds to Benson and then Matt Bondini got the Magpies home, 15.12 (102) to 15.11 (101).
Stone was brilliant through the midfield, winning a stack of centre clearances and booting three second-quarter goals, in a team missing A-graders Brody Hickey, Leon Wilson and Graham Hawkins.
“In the end we were good enough to get over the line,” McRae added.
“We have beaten every side in the competition and won five in a row but that is irrelevant now. We get three of our best five or six back next week but that is a new game … this is only the beginning.”
Tigers co-coach Kim Mayfield was gutted by the loss, saying his side must regroup ahead of the second semifinal.
“We couldn’t get close enough in the first three quarters,” he said.
“The last quarter was good but the rest was very ordinary.”
Nigel Eades, Nathan Woods and Bodhi Clifton were all rested while Josh Woods received his third yellow card of the season.