The Western Magpies have named an extended squad for their big match against fellow finals contender Wilston Grange at Chelmer on Sunday.
In what shapes as a classic 8 point encounter, the fourth placed Magpies take on the third placed Gorillas in a crucial battle that has the potential to shape the makeup of the final 5.
Into the home side comes Co-Captain Lachlan Woods, who resumes after missing through injury, QLD U/18 speedster Aaron Maricic, small forward Matt Thompson after a 3 week medical stint in the Soloman Islands and hard working half forward Joel Workman after good recent Reserves form.
The only official omission is 16 year old Riley Easton who has now reached his limit of senior footy if he wishes to be eligible for Under 17 finals (not a great rule if you want to encourage young players into senior football, however with the U/17's undefeated, the youngster understandably wants to be part of a Premiership tilt with his mates).
The return of Maricic will be a big boost, as he brings much needed pace to a team strong in contested football, with the Pies at times being made to look slow last week against the Tigers.
Speedster Majok Aneet on the opposite wing will gain confidence from the return of Maricic, as they have worked brilliantly together in the past to set the Pies alight from the midfield with their bursts of speed and skill.
Thompson will be primed for a big game against the Gorillas, having a good record against them over many years, including several big bags of goals - so he will be a welcome addition to the forward mix.
Doug Lawrence will have to be on his guard against young Grange livewire and Rising Star Lenny Christie who kicked 5 on debut vs the Panthers last week, but without underestimating the youngster, Lawrence should be safe in the comfort that he isn't a 200+cm former number 1 draft pick with 200+ AFL games to his name like his opponent vs the Tigers last outing.
The versatile Luke Scott may be called upon to play at both ends, after a quality sowing last week in defence trying to stem the Tiger onslaught. Chris Hunt was also another good player last week, and will be a key player again for the Pies.
After the opening quarter last week, the forward line was starved of opportunities but expect Sunday to be different with Alex Dickfos looking for more chances deep forward and a possible move of Brady Allen to CHF, the Pies will be particularly mobile in the forward half.
Ruckmen Dom Beer and Hayden Thick have been good, and will be expected to continue to give the Magpie midfield first use of the footy more often than not. Lachlan Woods hardness around the contest was missing last week, as was the 2 way running of Tom Ielasi, particularly his defensive efforts on opposition premier onballers. Drew Mitchell and Callum Carseldine were unable to continue their brilliant form last week, but don't expect them to be down in consecutive weeks, so expect them to bounce back strongly against a dangerous Gorilla midfield.
With Val Pope in good form, the depth of the Magpie midfield will be hoping to get on top early to give the home team an early advantage.
There is no disguising the fact that while the Tigers are a quality outfit, the Magpies were particularly poor after quarter time last week and coach Glen Humphrey will be stressing to his charges that they need to put that behind them and refocus on the job at hand on sunday if they are to emerge victorious in a vital clash for both sides.
This should be a cracking game between two traditional rivals and will be well worth getting down for a look. Be sure to get there early, as a biug home crowd is expected, so reserve your place under the Place Graceville marquees, enjoy one of the famous pork rolls and a Coopers and get ready for some high quality local Sunday footy!
Western Magpies vs Wilston Grange Gorillas - Sunday July 12 - Chelmer @ 2pm
B: Richard Wenham - Doug Lawrence - Luke Mitchell
HB: Matt Davis - Chris Hunt - Sean Mewing
C: Aaron Maricic - Ben Jeanke-Cain - Majok Aneet
HF: Val Pope - Brady Allen - Luke Scott
F: Sam Copland - Alex Dickfos - Jak Williams (R)
Foll: Dom Beer - Lachlan Woods (C) - Callum Carseldine (C)
Int From: Drew Mitchell - Tim McEvoy - Hayden Thick - Brodie Easton - Matt Hockley - Matt Thompson - Joel Workman