'Play for pride in our jumper'
Aussie rules: If Magpies had hoped to ease their way into the AFL Mackay finals, those hopes were quickly dashed by Mackay City coach Brad Best this week.
The Hawks may be out of the finals hunt, but still have plenty to play for says Best.
In their final match of the season, Best promised his side would play to "put that pride back in the jumper” after letting their finals hopes slip in recent weeks.
The Hawks were handed a lesson in football by the Eastern Swans last weekend.
"We had a good six, seven-week period where we were a competitive footy side and last week we just got belted,” Best said.
"I said to the guys that this week is our chance to put that pride back in the jumper - something we probably lost last week.
"The way we handled things was very disappointing. I got that message across to the guys.”
The first-year senior coach said his progression this season mirrored that of his team.
The Hawks went from two wins and the wooden spoon in 2018 to narrowly missing out on September action.
"As sadistic as it sounds, I've enjoyed every minute of it,” Best said.
"It's been an eye-opener in regards to what's really involved in the day-to-day and week-to-week basis of being a senior coach. It's something I've really enjoyed.
"To see the improvement out of individuals and then again as a team has been the most rewarding thing.
"At the start of the season we copped a fair few hammerings
. . . we were in with a finals chance up until we got beat by Bakers Creek. We're on the right path.”
After two years in the finals wilderness, Best would not be drawn on proclamations of a return to post-season action next year.
His focus was solely on finishing the season on a high in front of a vocal home crowd as part of the club's Ladies Day function.
"Maggies are finals-bound so they'll have a lot of motivation on their side to go in with a winning formula,” Best said.
"We want to play competitive footy. With Ladies Day, hopefully we can have a good win in front of a big crowd.”
AFL Mackay Allied Pickfords Cup Round 19 - Saturday
(2.45pm) - Whitsunday Sea Eagles v Bakers Creek Tigers at Whitsunday Sports Park
(2.45pm) - North Mackay Saints v Moranbah Bulldogs at Zeolla Park
(3pm) - Mackay City Hawks v Mackay Magpies at Harrup Park
Eastern Swans BYE