The fourth placed Western Magpies will be looking to consolidate their place in the top five on the ladder when they host seventh placed Sandgate on Saturday at Chelmer in Round 8 of the QAFL.
The match looms as a danger game for the Pies as the Hawks with a 3-4 record have shown good form this season including a strong win over Palm Beach and will be keen to push towards a finals spot.
A Pies victory will continue recent momentum and consolidate a Top 5 spot coming to the mid point of the season, while a loss for the Hawks could see them drop off the pace for finals contention.
The Magpies also have a game in hand against Wilston Grange so are well positioned for an assault on a top three position and double chance at season's end.
The Pies have 5 changes to the side that comprehensively defeated Mt Gravatt two weeks ago and despite a week off have Co-captain Lachlan Woods (ankle) and Sean Mewing (back) unable to recover from injuries and the consistent Val Pope out due to work commitments in the UK (good if you can get it!!).
Also out are Jae Humphrey and Bryce Crossley back to the Reserves. Both did all that was asked of them in the past 2 matches but the return of CHF Tom Michael and small forward Jak Williams from Redland, Richard Wenham from injury, young forward Sam Copland after a stint with the Lions Reserves and the promotion of exciting youngster Riley Easton for his first Senior match squeezed them out.
The loss of Pope is a blow as he has been in outstanding form this season and this may result in the versatile Luke Scott moving into an on-ball and half forward role to compensate.
The three small forwards in Williams, Easton and Matt Thompson will roll through half forward and may have stints up the ground and the return of strong marking Michael allows Alex Dickfos to move back in front of goal and the long kicking Brady Allen to adopt a roaming role across the midfield and half forward.
Dickfos played his best game for the year last round with 6 goals as he started to hold his marks and his kicking for goal is usually accurate. Allen's long kicking can break the lines and open up space as well nab a couple of goals for himself.
Hayden Thick has added a new dimension in ruck and with Dom Beer also on top the Pies have enjoyed first use of the footy in most matches this season.
Callum Carseldine has been a driving force in midfield and has led from the front all year and will do so again, but in the absence of Lachlan Woods the Pies will look to the in-form Drew Mitchell, the experienced Tim McEvoy and consistent Tom Ielasi and Ben Jaenke-Cain to lift even further to match a solid Sandgate midfield.
The defence has been tough and uncompromising in all matches except one this season with a top line half-back line of the close checking Doug Lawrence, rebounding Chris Hunt and strong marking Matt Davis a springboard for many Pies attacks.
Sean McEvoy has relished his opportunity for an extended chance in the top grade to be a solid performer and cement his place at full-back and Luke Mitchell has developed into a rebounding and tough small defender who has kept opposition small forwards in check.
The Magpies are touted as favourites in this encounter but coach Glenn Humphrey will remind his side that any lapse will be dangerous as the visiting Sandgate will be up for the match to keep their season alive.
Western Magpies v Sandgate at Chelmer on Saturday at 2 pm.
B: Richard Wenham, Sean McEvoy, Luke Mitchell
HB: Matt Davis, Doug Lawrence, Chris Hunt
C: Brady Allen , Ben Jaenke-Cain, Majok Aneet
HF: Luke Scott, Tom Michael (R), Sam Copland
F: Matt Thompson, Alex Dickfos, Jak Williams (R)
Foll: Dom Beer, Callum Carseldine (C) , Tom Ielasi
Int: Drew Mitchell, Tim McEvoy, Hayden Thick, Riley Easton