The Western Magpies have made one change for their Qualifying Final clash with Wilston Grange at Yeronga on Saturday.
Richard Wenham returns to the midfield rotations for his 100th Senior Game after missing for 2 matches with a niggle replacing the unlucky Riley Easton who has been named as an emergency despite good recent form.
The Pies have a 2-0 record against Grange with a comfortable win at Chelmer and then a come from behind victory in a low scoring match in the return bout. However the Gorillas have enjoyed a solid season and have been impressive in recent matches and will fully test the Pies.
The Pies have based their game on tough, contested football and also on an uncompromising defensive unit. As a result the Pies have won most of the midfield tussles this year and have strangled the forward lines of most sides with the back six being a strong well drilled unit.
Matt Davis returned last week and continued where he had left off before injury and with Doug Lawrence and Luke Scott forms a formidable half back line. Sean Mewing and Chris Hunt in the last line of defence have been models of consistency in recent weeks and Luke Mitchell has mopped up much of what his taller players have missed.
In the middle, the experience of Tim McEvoy has come to the fore and the proven finals performer will be primed to continue his recent good form. Drew Mitchell has had a stellar season winning plenty of ball in the middle and regularly bobbing up to kick some crucial goals. Co-Captains Callum Carseldine and Lachlan Woods provide the grunt work and Carseldine has not had a bad game this year. Woods is getting back to his best after missing a few matches a month ago through injury.
Ruckmen Dom Beer and Hayden Thick have been workhorses this season and Thick's impressive leap often gets the Pies first use of the ball. Beer does not have Thick's vertical agility but he uses his size to advantage to get the ball to his team-mates.
The real star of recent weeks has been Val Pope who after spending more time in the middle of the ground mid-season has pushed deeper and has been rewarded with hauls of 6,4 and 7 goals in the past 3 matches. Pope's closing speed, reading of the play and balance are top shelf and he has delighted the Magpie faithful for many years.
Alex Dickfos at full forward is averaging over 3 goals per match this year with 55 goals for the season and he finished third on the QAFL goalkicking list. He and Pope make a good combination and the other tall options in CHF Tom Michael and young Sam Copland give the Pies plenty of options. Michael keeps presenting and his efforts this year have been first class. For a 19 yo he has a big upside and shows maturity beyond his years.
Matt Thompson has pushed up the ground recently but he remains dangerous near goals and he rarely wastes a disposal.
Aaron Maricic and Sunny Aneet on the wings are both getting better with each outing after suffering with continuity in the team for a variety of reasons. They provide the leg speed through the middle to complement 2014 Bill Pierce Medallist Ben Jaenke-Cain, who just works hard up and down the ground all match.
The Magpies will start nominal favourite after winning both matches against the Gorillas this season but they will need to be at their best to overcome a resurgent Grange. This will be a cracker of a game with the winner to take on Labrador the following week and the loser to meet the victor in the Morningside-Broadbeach clash.
Western Magpies v Wilston Grange - Leyshon Park, Yeronga - Saturday September 5 @ 2pm
B: Sean Mewing - Chris Hunt - Luke Mitchell
HB: Matt Davis - Doug Lawrence - Luke Scott
C: Aaron Maricic - Ben Jeanke-Cain - Sunny Aneet
HF: Sam Copland - Tom Michael (R) - Lachlan Woods (C)
F: Matt Thompson - Alex Dickfos - Val Pope
Foll: Dom Beer - Callum Carseldine (c) - Drew Mitchell
Int: Richard Wenham - Tim McEvoy - Brady Allen - Hayden Thick
Emergencies: Riley Easton - Matt Garland - Brodie Easton
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