This clash was always going to boil down to the influence of two men at opposite ends of Moama Recreation Reserve.
Mulwala superstar Ash Froud and Moama monster Tyler Jones held the respective finals hopes of their clubs in the palm of their hands leading into the match.
But when you unpack the statistics of the pair of attacking weapons the similarities were uncanny, and both can hold their heads high, despite the result — a nine-goal win to the Magpies — hinting otherwise.
Jones and Froud were each targeted 22 times during the game, with the former (eight marks and 6.1) clearly impacting the scoreboard more than the latter (five marks and 1.4).
However, the delivery into each forward arc was completely different.
Jones was presented with silver service for almost the entire contest, with Rhys Archard and Noah Wheeler dominating the midfield exchanges and spearheading Moama’s supreme ball-use, making Lions defender Nathan McNair’s stopping job almost impossible.
Froud, carrying at least a few niggles, was not helped at all by his teammates.
Put bluntly, Mulwala’s collective use of the football was horrible.
Kicking with the wind in the second term with the game still in the balance, the Lions wasted opportunity after opportunity, and when they did hold onto possession the ball was overused to the point of frustration.
Froud was forced to lead multiple times in a single forward thrust, testing his leg and allowing the Magpies to get over and help Logan Power, who was once again brilliant in stopping the goal-machine, spoil his opponent.
In the end it proved the difference in the game, with the Magpies using their home ground perfectly, trapping the Lions in the dead pockets continuously.
Harrison Crossley, Sean Johns, Jackson Gash, Matt Tregenza and Ross Ansaldi never stopped working, but the Magpies simply had too many outstanding performers.
Archard added four goals to his plethora of touches, while Lachie Collins (two goals), Mitch Eade, Cooper Barber and Fraser Verhey (all one) supported Jones well when he was shut down.
Mulwala’s promising season of development will have to bear fruit another year, but for Moama a blockbuster contest against Barooga awaits.
The Hawks defeated the Magpies just three weeks ago, and will have to again curb Jones’ influence (he kicked just one major in that clash) to stand any chance of making a preliminary final.