Western Magpies coach Nathan Clarke has swung the changes as the Pies face the first of two challenging matches when they travel to Hawthorne to take on Morningside on Saturday.
The Pies are currently third on the ladder and Morningside are sixth, an unfamiliar position for the Panthers.
The home side will be playing for a finals berth while the Pies are eyeing off a top three finish and the double chance. A win sets up the Magpies tilt at a flag but a loss sees them back in the mix just to make the finals.
Clarke and the Pies selectors have made six changes to the side that defeated UQ. Ruckman Dom Beer and utility Brady Allen have been relegated to the Reserves along with defenders Rhys Bridge and late inclusion vs UQ - Luke De Nys. Debutant youngster Billy Johnson also goes back to Reserves after his first taste of Senior footy and the experienced Tim McEvoy is rested after not shaking of a bruised lower back suffered last week.
Jadan Morton returns to the ruck to join Nick Barling, Chris Hunt is back after missing last week to visit his ill father, Matt Davis comes in after missing with illness last week, Brenton Saunders returns from Redlands, Will Fletcher rejoins after several weeks with the Brisbane Lions, and Jordan Bourke, a Sherwood junior and ex-Brisbane Lion currently with Aspley makes his Pies senior debut after several weeks out with injury.
The dropping of Beer and Allen may come as a surprise but Beer's around ground presence and mobility has been a concern and Allen has been up and down in recent weeks and needs to recharge the batteries in Reserves.
The Magpies heirarchy will be aware they were well beaten in their previous clash with the Panthers but a lot has changed since then and the Magpies midfield has lifted and the backline will be a lot tougher than the first encounter. Coach Nathan Clarke was only just at the helm then but he has since stamped his mark on the side with the team playing with a confidence and enjoyment that translates into a winning formula.
Barling and Morton have a big job to give the likes of Gareth Crawford, Matt Sondergeld, Callum Carseldine and Drew Mitchell a chance to get their hands on the ball to drive the Pies forward.
Mitchell has also been dangerous across half forward, averaging two goals a game in recent matches.
Val Pope was back to his brilliant best with 7 goals last week and full forward Alex Dickfos has started to convert opportunities into goals, bagging 6 last week. Sam Copland also slotted into the forward mix with 4 goals last week and the Pies also have the option of the classy Luke Scott slipping forward as needed. Brenton Saunders is also a smart forward who gives another scoring option.
Up and coming youngster Charlie Pershouse has been given the tough job of keeping Morningside full forward Kent Abey in check--Abey did the damage in the first round loss to the Panthers, but the midfield will need to slow the Panthers entries to prevent a repeat. Pershouse has form at fullback as he did a fine job restricting the Aspley full forward when he played for the Lions recently in a NEAFL match. Chris Hunt will be better for a week off and will offer assistance and Luke Scott if back will also lend a hand. David Lewis and Tyler Jones have been in fine form across half back and will need to be to repel what is sure to be a desperate Morningside team.
The Magpies finals campaign starts 2 weeks early and a win on Saturday will secure a finals berth -this should be enough motivation for the Magpies to continue their recent good form and avenge their loss at home earlier in the year.
Western Magpies vs Morningside Panthers, Sat Aug 13 2pm @ Jack Esplen Oval, Hawthorne
B: Chris Hunt - Charlie Pershouse - Aaron Maricic
HB: Will Fletcher - David Lewis - Tyler Jones
C: Matt Davis - Cal Carseldine (C) - Luke Scott
HF: Drew Mitchell - Sam Copland - Lachlan Woods (C)
F: Brenton Saunders - Alex Dickfos - Val Pope
Foll: Nick Barling - Ben Jeanke-Cain - Matt Sondergeld
INT: Jadan Morton - Gareth Crawford - Jordan Bourke - Brodie Easton