The Western Magpies have made three changes for their challenging clash with Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast on Saturday.
Into the team come Alex Dickfos returning to full forward and to pinch hit in the ruck, co-captain Lachlan Woods returns from injury and Matt Garland comes in after good Reserves form following long term injury. Expected inclusions, ruckman Hayden Thick was not selected due to illness and Aaron Maricic is still on Queensland Under 18 duties. The match is challenging as the Demons are a dangerous proposition on their home ground, which is often windy and has caused the Pies plenty of problems over the years.
Out of the team are Matt Hockley (work commitments), Tom Michael (recalled to Redlands) and Joel Workman returns to the Reserves.
Workman suffered a head knock last week and wasn't his usual busy self during the match. Matt Garland gets his chance as he has done all the hard yards in rehab to get his knee right and then has shown consistent form at Reserves level.
The Magpies got out of jail last time the two sides met as they had to come from behind to win at home. However this was a win that gave the Magpies increased self belief they can win after a poor start. Coach Glenn Humphrey won't want a repeat of that game and will stress to his team to be on guard from the first bounce and get on top early to snuff out any Demon thoughts of an upset.
The Pies defensive six are unchanged and again have been the catalyst for the Magpies victories. Miserly in defence, they have also been an attacking weapon. Matt Davis and Luke Scott have been strong in the air, Doug Lawrence has been superb on the opposition key forwards all season and the run of Chris Hunt, Sean Mewing and Luke Mitchell has not only shut down opponents but opened up scoring opportunities.
Up forward Sam Copland goes to CHF, Val Pope and Matt Thompson to half forward and Dickfos at FF will straighten the attack up. Dickfos will go into ruck at times to give Dom Beer a break and Garland will slot into the key forward role.
16 year old Riley Easton provides the small forward hustle and bustle and Lachlan Woods will start in the pocket.
In midfield Sunny Aneet gets plenty of the ball and Drew Mitchell, Callum Carseldine, Tim McEvoy and Ben Jaenke-Cain provide the grunt work in and under.
Brady Allen can be the x-factor with his ability to play a variety of roles and his long kicking can help the Pies open up play.
The Magpies have worked hard to be 10-3 after 13 rounds and will not want to drop this game.
On paper the Pies will be favoured but will need be on their game to win against a Demon side keen to get a big scalp.
Western Magpies vs Surfers Paradise Demons @ Surfers Paradise - Saturday, 1 August 2pm
B: Sean Mewing - Chris Hunt - Luke Mitchel
HB: Matt Davis - Doug Lawrence - Luke Scott
C: Brady Allen - Ben Jeanke-Cain - Majok Aneet
HF: Matt Thompson - Sam Copland - Val Pope
F: Lachlan Woods (c) - Alex Dickfos - Riley Easton
Foll: Dom Beer - Drew Mitchell - Callum Carseldine (c)
Int: Tim McEvoy - Matt Garland - Richard Wenham - Jae Humphrey
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