SATURDAY’S one-point loss to Moyston-Willaura was the “kick up the backside” Wickliffe-Lake Bolac needed, according to coach Nick Willox.
The Magpies, who finished the season on top of the ladder with only one loss, were brought down by the Pumas in the second semi-final, 12.7 (79) to 11.12 (78).
They will now play last year’s runner-up Tatyoon in Saturday’s preliminary final after the Hawks defeated Glenthompson-Dunkeld in the first semi-final on Sunday, 17.7 (109) to 11.10 (76).
Willox said it was the third time the Magpies had met the Pumas in the past month, with the margin under a goal each time.
He said the Magpies suffered from a lack of focus and discipline in Saturday’s match.
“Brad Keilar was sent off early in the game and then Michael Blackburn was sent off a bit later … that hurt us a bit,” Willox said.
“They were applying some good pressure and we really couldn’t do much right.
“It’s a good kick up the backside heading into next week. We know grand final spots aren’t just handed out, we have to work hard for it.”
The Magpies improved after half-time, adding five goals in the third term to trail by eight at the last change.
Willox said the final quarter was probably the best his side played, although there was still room for improvement.
“The ball was up and back all quarter,” he said.
“We had it inside 50 more than them but we just didn’t capitalise. We needed that one goal to get us over the line, but it didn’t happen.”
The final term was the lowest scoring of the game, with the Pumas only adding two behinds, while the Magpies managed 1.3.
Willox said he was confident heading into the preliminary final, but said the Magpies needed to go back to basics.
“We struggled to implement our game plan on Saturday,” he said.
“I’m confident. I think we can bounce back.”