The Western Magpies are all set for their big clash against undefeated ladder leaders Labrador Tigers on the Gold Coast on Sunday. The Pies will be aiming to avoid the traps of their last encounter with Labrador, where they put in a good showing vs undefeated 2014 Premiers Morningside in Round 1, only showing up the following week against the Tigers, expecting the same output, but minus the effort. This attitude resulted in a comprehensive football lesson from the well drilled Labrador side in Round 2, and this time the Pies will be switched on.
Labrador were an somewhat of an unknown quantity in Round 2, with rumours of strong recruiting and a new gameplan, but the Tigers soon established their credentials as one of the flag favourites as they ran riot at Chelmer and haven't looked back.
Since then, the rejuvenated Magpies haven't dropped a game and with a midfield has regularly been on top and a miserly defence, the Pies will be keen to square the ledger. The forwards were starved of goal kicking opportunities in Round 2, but the entire Pies team will be keen to make amends for that embarrassing display.
This Sunday the Magpies will use last week's big victory over Morningside as a catalyst for a big match to try and inflict Labrador's first defeat of the 2015 season.
There have been 3 forced changes to the line-up with Co-captain Lachlan Woods (shoulder) and CHF Tom Michael (ankle) both out with injury and consistent midfielder Tom Ielasi departing for Europe on a long planned trip.
In comes the experienced Matt Hockley after impressive performances in the Reserves, exciting young small forward Riley Easton and dual premiership half back Sean Mewing after missing several matches with injury.
The Magpies have developed a defensive steel to their play this season and have gained a reputation in the QAFL as being strong at the contested football. This aspect of their game deserted them in the first match against the Tigers so expect a big improvement on Sunday.
The Pies must also assume that ex-AFL heavyweights Josh Fraser and Matthew Lappin will line up for the Tigers, which will add to the task, but all players in black & yellow on Sunday will command respect.
The Magpies defensive unit has been exceptional in most matches this season with Matt Davis and Doug Lawrence arguably the top two in William Pierce Medal voting at present and with the run of Chris Hunt and the tenacity and tackling pressure of Round 10 Syd Guildford Trophy Nominee Richard Wenham they will be keen to stifle the Tiger forwards.
The Pies will miss Lachlan Woods and Tom Ielasi in the middle but Callum Carseldine arguably leads the contested footy count in the QAFL and Drew Mitchell and Tim McEvoy have also enjoyed good matches in recent weeks. The long kicking of Brady Allen who can cover forward and back and the speed of Majok Aneet through the middle of the ground also adds firepower for the Magpies.
Hayden Thick was at fullback last time these sides met but he now adds spice to the Pies ruck division and with Dom Beer has been giving the smaller brigade plenty of football from the centre bounces.
Key forward Alex Dickfos has been in form and will pose more of a problem for the Tigers defenders and with youngster Sam Copland having more experience of what is required at this level the Pies have greater options up forward. Add the versatility of Luke Scott and class of Val Pope and the Pies will be confident of causing another major upset.
Western Magpies vs Labrador Tigers - Cooke Murphy Oval, Sunday July 5 @ 2pm
B: Richard Wenham - Doug Lawrence - Luke Mitchell
HB: Matt Davis - Chris Hunt - Sean Mewing
C: Brady Allen - Ben Jaenke-Cain - Majok Aneet
HF: Val Pope - Alex Dickfos - Luke Scott
F: Sam Copland - Matt Hockley - Jak Williams (R)
Foll: Dom Beer - Tim McEvoy - Callum Carseldine (C)
Int: Drew Mitchell - Hayden Thick - Riley Easton - Brodie Easton