Busselton became the first team in more than four years to keep its opponents goalless as it all but ended the Collie Eagles’ finals hopes on Sunday afternoon.
Fresh off their upset win over Donnybrook, the Eagles weren’t able to back up their performance and were restricted to just eight behinds in the 65-point loss.
It was the first time a league team was held goalless in a game since the Eagles restricted Augusta Margaret River to eight behinds in round five of the 2014 season.
While the rain had stopped before play started, the centre of the Collie Recreation Ground looked like a mud pit, making it difficult to get the ball free of the centre square.
With both of the Eagles’ first choice ruckmen in Jared Debenham and Paul Rinder missing, the Magpies were able to capitalise from endless number of stoppages.
Busselton’s midfield regularly got first hands on the ball and had little difficulty finding free players around the contest to drive the ball forward.
The Magpies got the first goal, through Jed Kemp, on the board quite early in the first quarter, but it was a slog to get another one.
The Eagles defenders were under pressure, but held up well and were able to stop Busselton’s dangerous forward line from taking marks within range of goal.
Captain Aidan Fraser received a free kick directly in front of goal late in the quarter and made no mistake to give the Magpies a slim 14 point lead at the first change.
Eagles coach Seth White told his players at quarter time that they needed to lift and it appeared the message had sunk in as Collie came out strong in the second quarter.
The Eagles got the ball forward for the first time but weren’t able to get it through the big sticks before Busselton regained control.
Having already lost Matt Blackford for the day, the Eagles were again hit by injury when Chase Griggs came off second best in a marking contest, where Mitch Tenardi took a strong mark.
Tenardi’s set shot was wide of the mark and it summed up Busselton’s quarter, with the Magpies missing several opportunities and adding just one goal for the quarter, when ruckman Thomas Fleming received a free kick off the ball deep in the forward line.
At the other end of the ground, Jayce Fontana had the Eagles’ best chance when he took a contested mark deep in the pocket, but his shot hit the near post.
With just a 20 point margin at half time, the Eagles were still in the game despite Busselton’s dominance but it didn’t last long as Busselton put the foot down in the third quarter.
The Busselton midfielders were undeterred by the heavy rain and hail that came down during the third term as they regularly found their forwards in space.
The Magpies forwards added five goals, through Kemp, Riley Arbon, Tenardi and two to Steve Cameron, with four of them coming from set shots.
Collie thought it had finally kicked a goal at two points in the quarter, but it wasn’t to be as Blair Malatesta’s banana hit the far post and Luke Slater’s shot was marked on the line.
With a 53 point margin meaning the game was over at the three quarter time, the Magpies continued to pressure in the final term.
They added two more goals with Arbon and Fleming both kicking their second, before Ray Daniels had a final chance to kick Collie’s first goal in the final minute of the game.
Daniels’ shot from about 40 metres out looked good off the boot, but drifted to the right for the Eagles’s eighth behind before the final siren sounded on the Magpies’ 10.13 (73) to 0.8 (8) victory.
Busselton coach Steve Lester said he was happy to get the win away from home.
“We’ve been on the end of a couple of hidings up here in the last few years, so regardless of the score, just to get a win was great,” he said.
“Collie have obviously been in some good form in the last few weeks and [the win] keeps our season alive.”
Lester said it was pleasing to see the Busselton forward line work its way into the game in the second half.
“Jed Kemp’s third quarter was really good and got us going and then Camo (Steve Cameron) has a presence all the time,” he said.
“It’s not bad when Aidan Fraser, who’s generally been our best forward, doesn’t have a huge impact but we still function well.
“He understands it’s not always about him kicking goals as long as we get them so that was good.”
Lester said despite the team’s recent form, he wasn’t looking past this weekend’s clash with Carey Park.
“Carey Park next week’s going to be a big challenge at home,” he said.
“We’ve just got to string some games together and keep ourselves in the mix.”
For the Eagles, the loss effectively ended their hopes of playing finals.
White said it was disappointing the team couldn’t carry on the momentum from its win over Donnybrook.
“We just didn’t turn up and they did,” he said.
“It was very ordinary – a lot of our good players were down and a couple of early injuries to key backs hurt.
“We had a couple kids who made their debut that were impressive and some other young guys had to go down back and play unfamiliar roles.
“That’s probably the most pleasing and most disappointing part – the kids were real good and our leaders were very poor.”
White said the team would look at changing ‘everything’ ahead of this weekend’s trip to South Bunbury.
“We’ll flip the magnets up and see where they land,” he said.
“One of the best things about playing footy is you get another chance the following week so we’ll head down to South Bunbury.
“You only get once chance to play at Hands Oval each year so hopefully we’ll make the most of it.”