The Augusta Margaret River Hawks have all but ended Busselton Magpies’ hopes of playing finals football.
It will take a minor miracle and a huge percentage for the Pies to claw their way into premiership contention.
After the weekend’s defeat at the hands of the Hawks, Busselton now sit in seventh on the ladder – with the same amount of wins as sixth placed Carey Park and eighth placed Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault.
The Hawks’ results over the next two rounds holds Busselton’s fate in the balance.
For even the slightest chance of finals action, Augusta Margaret River would need to lose their next two matches and Busselton win theirs.
This task seems unlikely, given Busselton face the number one side and premiership favourites Donnybrook and fourth placed South Bunbury, while the Hawks take on lower placed Carey Park and Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault.
The Magpies hosted the Hawks on Saturday under lights at Sir Stewart Bovell Park.
It was a tight contest early, but in the second half the Hawks ran away with it.
At quarter time, the Pies were scoreless with two behinds and the Hawks had a goal on the board and two points.
The second term felt closer than the scores reflected.
Hawk Mitchell Payne opened the scoring and things took a downward turn for the Magpies when one of their best and most consistent players, Bailey Sanford, went down injured.
Sanford had to be helped from the field and the Hawks stuck the boot in with another goal, this time from Mitchell Gerrans.
Busselton finally had a break through when captain Aidan Fraser scored a goal, bringing the score to 1.3 (9) to 3.2 (20).
A great intercept from Magpie Joshua Embry looked likely to produce a major but Jed Kemp wasn’t able to convert.
Fraser stepped up again, scoring another six points for the home side, but the Hawks would soon return the favour.
Hawk Matthew Jukes, while copping a monster tackle from Magpie midfielder Liam Creighton, dropped the football on his boot and snapped a goal.
Magpie Jaylen Colegate had an opportunity to bring his side back into contention but could only manage a behind.
An attempt by Creighton was touched and Augusta Margaret River capitalised on these near misses.
Jukes won out against Pies defender Zack Conroy and spun around to dribble the ball through for his second goal for the quarter.
Busselton weren’t able to clear the ball from the Hawks forward 50 and possession went back to the Hawks.
The half time siren went before more damage was done and the Hawks led 6.5 (41) to Busselton’s 2.7 (19).
In the third, Payne again opened the scoring with a mark on the line and another goal from the Hawks prompted some push and shove between the teams.
Fraser managed to score from a set shot in front and also bagged another, which Hawk Jack McMahon claimed was touched.
Fraser’s gallant efforts weren’t enough and a clash between two players led to tensions boiling over with both sides shirt-fronting their opponents left, right and centre.
The Hawks were able to keep clear heads and slotted two more goals through before the quarter was out, leading 10.7 (67) to 4.7 (31).
In the final term, the Hawks dominated, piling on an additional three goals and four points, to Busselton’s one goal, two behinds.
Missed opportunities in front of the big sticks proved costly for the Pies, especially with the Hawks making the most of every chance to and dominating stoppages to claim the Busselton Toyota Cup 13.11 (89) to 5.9 (39). Hick and Fraser were named best on ground with five and four goals respectively.