*Pic by Chris Rules
The RSEA Magpies welcomed back some experienced faces last Saturday and almost toppled the high-flying Clarence Roos in a high-quality contest at KGV.
After Josh Arnold and Chris Howard had returned to the line-up in the previous two weeks, Brayden Webb, Matt Dilger, Cam Goodsell and Darrean Wyatt further bolstered the Pies as they look to finish the season on a high.
With their best 22 on the park since the second game of the season, the Magpies produced perhaps their best footy of 2021 in the opening half, their defensive pressure keeping the high-speed Roos to just three goals in the opening hour.
At the other end, with the expected 2021 forward finally together for the first time, Harrison Gunther, Brayden Webb, Cam Goodsell, Matt Dilger and Adam Roberts all looked dangerous as the home side took a 13-point edge into half-time.
The heavens opened and the wind howled after the long break, forcing the Magpies to defend grimly for 30 minutes into the breeze, and their pressure once again stood strong, keeping Clarence to just one goal with the winds at their backs.
Conditions calmed in the final term but the Roos brewed up a storm, winning the first four centre clearances to boot three quick goals to pinch the lead, then booting another two in time-on to close out the victory.
"The guys were obviously gutted after the game, they put a lot into it," coach Paul Kennedy said.
"So we walked away with that feeling, but also feeling buoyed because it was so good to finally see the majority of our senior group on the field together, and too see them play our brand of footy.
"Our first half was finals-level footy, and the third quarter was a great defensive effort into the wind. Unfortunately we couldn't finish the job, but as the guys who have returned get their match legs under them we should see plenty more of our brand of footy with high pressure and quality ball movement."
* The RSEA Magpies take on the fourth-placed Tigers at the Twin Ovals this Saturday at 1pm