The Western Magpies can cement third place on the QAFL ladder and a double chance in the finals with a victory over fellow finals contender Wilston Grange at Stafford on Saturday.
This is a round 4 catch up match on the QAFL bye weekend after the scheduled match was postponed after a particularly big deluge in May sending Brisbane traffic into chaos and PBI Oval under water.
This will be the second match between the finals contenders and traditional rivals in the past 2 weeks and it was the Magpies who had a good victory in the first clash at Chelmer.
It almost smells of a finals format when sides would often meet a fortnight apart and for the Pies they need to be wary that in many of those finals series the second result was never always the same.
The Gorillas brains trust will no doubt have analysed their recent loss and will have new plans in place to counter the Magpies and this has potential danger written all over it for the Black and White. Grange were missing several key players in the first clash so this match still shapes as a tightly fought contest and coach Glenn Humphrey and his coaching staff will have stressed the need for all players to be focused from the first bounce.
The Magpies will be without two key players in ruckman Hayden Thick and key forward Alex Dickfos who had planned trips for the bye weekend. Both were among the better players in the win two weeks ago.
Also missing from last week are Redlands pair Jordan Bain and Jak Williams--full-forward Bain recalled to Redlands NEAFL team and small forward Williams unavailable due to pre-planned bye weekend break. . Also out is winger Aaron Maricic playing for Queensland Under 18s at Ballarat.
Into the team after several weeks out with injury comes key forward Tom Michael who will also help out in the ruck, half forward Matt Thompson and small forward Riley Easton, both recalled after recent stints in the Reserves and half back Jae Humphrey. It will be Matt Thompson's 100th senior game for the Pies.
The loss of Dickfos and Bain has resulted in a re-shuffle up forward with the Pies going for a smaller unit with Val Pope at full forward and Thompson and Easton into the pockets. Matt Hockley has been good at CHF recently and he and Sam Copland provide some height across half forward and the Pies could swing either Brady Allen or Luke Scott forward if needed.
Syd Guildford Award winner and new Dad Drew Mitchell hopefully will stay awake long enough to do his usual thing with multiple midfield possessions as well as contributing on the scoreboard.
Partner in crime Tim McEvoy also wins plenty of ball and directs traffic and he will also team with Ben Jaenke-Cain and the workaholic Callum Carseldine to again assert midfield control for the Pies.
Dom Beer will shoulder most of the ruck work in the absence of Thick with Tom Michael to lend a hand--Beer did well against the big Grange ruckmen last time and will need to be at his best for the Pies to win the midfield battles.
The back line looks rock solid with the half back line of Luke Scott, Matt Davis and Doug Lawrence arguably in the top four vote winners this year and ably backed up by Chris Hunt and the run of Luke Mitchell and Richard Wenham.
This is a big match for the Magpies, perhaps yet another another 8 point game. A win gets them a game clear of the Gorillas and on track for a top three finish and the double chance-a loss throws the fight for third wide open again.
The Magpies will be up for a big effort to consolidate third place on the ladder.
Western Magpies v Wilston Grange Gorillas - PBI Oval, Stafford Saturday July 25th @ 2pm
B: Sean Mewing - Chris Hunt - Luke Mitchell
HB: Matt Davis - Doug Lawrence - Luke Scott
C: Brady Allen - Ben Jeanke-Cain - Majok Aneet
HF: Sam Copland - Matt Hockley - Joel Workman
F: Matt Thompson - Val Pope - Riley Easton
Foll: dom Bee - Drew Mitchell - Callum Carseldine (C)
Int: Tim McEvoy - Tom Michael (R) - Richard Wenham - Jae Humphrey