THE Putney Magpies are officially a serious AFL London 2012 premiership contender after their comfortable 27-point win over West London at Putney Heath on Saturday.
Heading into Round 4, last year’s grand finalists Wandsworth and West London had again set the tone.
And while Putney’s 98-point win over an under-strength Wimbledon was impressive, Saturday’s win over the reigning premiers is the one that will have opposition sides now treating the Magpies with caution.
The Jubilee long weekend presented an ideal travel window for many expats but conspired against clubs needing to field three teams.
West London went in undermanned, missing as many as six regular starters. But to focus on the under-done Wildcats would take the gloss of a tenacious and at times ruthless Magpies side that completely dominated the second half to win 16.13 (109) to 12.10 (82).
West London won the toss and took full advantage of a powerful breeze to lead by 25 points at the first change.
Second term, Putney’s turn and at halftime it was anyone’s game — Cats by eight.
The third quarter was meant to read: West London, with the wind for the last time, set up a match-winning lead they can defend in the last stanza.
But the ‘Pies had other ideas.
Midfielders Adam Robertson, Clayton Fitzgerald, Greg Chapman and Dan Golwacki took full advantage of Jacob Bailey’s rucking dominance to give forwards Andrew Slevison (four goals) and Peter McGettigan (two) first-class delivery.
When the ‘Cats did manage a forward thrust, Lachlan O’Toole at centre half-back and Josh Cutten were there, waiting to turn defence into attack.
This amounted to a four-goal-to-two term into the breeze and from there it was downhill skiing — the last term equally one-sided, five goals to two, making it a nine goal to four last half.
The Magpies have now strung together three wins on the trot and sit second on the table behind undefeated Wandsworth.
The Wildcats will be relieved to have several key players return from abroad for this Saturday’s clash with Wimbledon where they can look to regain some much-needed confidence and get their premiership defence back on track.
In other matches, Wandsworth maintained their unbeaten, top-of-the-table run by downing the London Swans, 15.16 (106) to 8.7 (55) at Ply Park.
With coach Jarryd Browne sailing the seas of Croatia, skipper Mark Brescacin stepped up on his 30th birthday to be captain-coach for the day.
The Perth boy did not disappoint — leading his team to victory and kicking four goals.
Club stalwart and treasurer Sam Percy said the Demons accept their status as premiership favourites but knows it’s far from comfortable at the top.
“We have to expect we are considered favourites but we have to not let that affect us too much,” he said.
He praised Putney’s efforts of late and expected the main opposition to come from the Magpies and Wildcats in August.
“We fully expect Putney to be tough opponents but what’s also surprising is that West London have faded in the second half the last two matches… that won’t happen much,” he said.
Round 5 matches: London Swans v Putney Magpies, West London v Wimbledon, Wandsworth v North London (Sunday).