The Western Magpies face their fourth big challenge in a row as they meet the QAFL ladder leaders and arch-rival Palm Beach-Currumbin at Salk Oval on Saturday.
The Pies failed in the first challenge against Morningside a month ago but got their mojo back with two comprehensive victories against finals rivals Surfers Paradise and Mt Gravatt in successive weeks.
The Pies have made 3 changes to the side which had a great comeback victory last week with ruckman Dom Beer missing with an ankle sprain, Rhys Bridge going back to the Reserves to re-capture his early season form and youngster Will Fletcher into the Lions NEAFL side.
In comes back pocket Richard Wenham and Sam Copland to interchange/half forward after both had fine matches in Reserves last week and Nick Barling into ruck as a like for like replacement for Dom Beer.
The Pies were well beaten by the Lions in their first encounter with PBC’s fast ball movement on the outside and probably the best foot skills seen in the QAFL for some time doing the damage.
That said, the Pies midfield has lifted in recent weeks and was able to shut down Mt Gravatt’s midfielders last week, the same midfielders who wreaked havoc in the first round of the season. So coach Nathan Clark has planned to do the same thing this week and if the Pies, led by the resurgent Cal Carseldine, Drew Mitchell, Ben Jaenke-Cain, Gareth Crawford and the busy Matt Sondergeld can win the centre battles it will put pressure on the home team’s scoring ability. Jadan Morton in ruck was sensational last week and he will also give the Pies a lift, especially against the mobile Lions’ big men.
The Pies’ backmen were always under the pump several weeks ago but have tightened up considerably in recent weeks to be at their miserly best. Luke Scott, Tim McEvoy, Chris Hunt and Brady Allen have all lifted in recent weeks and Luke Mitchell is playing a fine mop up and link role from the back pocket.
Up forward Brent Staker adds a new dimension to the Pies and he was not playing in the last encounter between the teams. Likewise Brenton Saunders and Sam Copland – Copland will have fond memories of his 4 goal haul at the Salk Oval last year - and Saunders adds a livewire dimension to the Pies forwards. Alex Dickfos will also be a different player this time around as he has lifted his output in recent weeks.
The Pies will rightly see this as a true test of their premiership credentials against the QAFL pacesetter and in what is the match of the round. The Pies have a good record at Palm Beach and will be primed to reverse the first round result.
Western Magpies vs Palm Beach Currumbin Lions at Salk Oval - Sat Jun 25 @ 130pm
B: Luke Mitchell - Chris Hunt - Richard Wenham
HB: Luke scott - Brady Allen - Tim McEvoy
C: Matt Davis - Cal Carseldine (C) - Mitch Stallard
HF: Drew Mitchell - Brent Staker - Lachlan Woods (C)
F: Brenton Saunders - Alex Dickfos - Matt Sondergeld
Foll: Nick Barling - Ben Jeanke-Cain - Gareth Crawford
INT: Jadan Morton - Sam Copland - Brodie Easton - David Lewis