Mark Story: Magpies lack mettle

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WAYWARD: The Magpies are doing it tough this year - as are their fans - says Mark Story. PHOTO DUNCAN BROWN
WAYWARD: The Magpies are doing it tough this year - as are their fans - says Mark Story. PHOTO DUNCAN BROWN

Magpies fans are doing it tough.

Perhaps I should stop setting the stage: a cold glass (or three) of whatever plonk's left in the fridge, macrocarpa ablaze on the fire and the kids prepped with lemonade, primed for dad's ensuing 80-minute tantrum.

There's no better indication of a flaccid Bay performance than said tantrums - and/or the kids more engrossed with their phone than the TV screen.

The rub is that weak performances lead to poor turnouts at home games, which lead to weaker performances and poorer turnouts.

But ever thus was rugby. Footy, like most sports, is brutally results driven.

What's obviously discouraged many is the turnaround in fortune in just a single season. From last year's bubble and fizz of shield-mania and premiership elevation, to the spectre of a 2017 shield-less relegation.

Unfortunately the Magpies campaign has come down to premiership survival; not the most gripping of goals for those watching from the couch - let alone the wintry stands.

The two most obvious deficiencies in Saturday's prime-time loss to the Makos were diffident defence, and an appreciable lack of brawn at the breakdown. Both failings betray a team's lack of confidence.

The pressure on my household will intensify this week with the match against Manawatu on Saturday. With my in-laws based in Palmy (the most ironic of abbreviations) the mockery south of the gorge, if defeated, will be merciless.

However, there's a slim chance of a shield challenge in roughly two weeks which, if fruitful, will render this editorial delightfully redundant.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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