The stakes could not be higher for the Western Magpies as they face finals football a week early as they host Surfers Paradise at Chelmer on Saturday.
The rewards for victory are high for both sides as the loser will likely miss the finals unless there are upsets in other games. A win and maintenance of percentage can see the Pies hold off Morningside, which should beat Sandgate, to retain 3rd place on the ladder and the double chance. A narrow victory to the Pies and Morningside will still need to win by over 100 points to pass the Pies on percentage-- the QAFL app will get a workout on Saturday as scores are checked regularly!! And don't even think about a draw!!
The Pies have to win--it is as simple as that. The rest will have to look after itself.
Coach Nathan Clarke will be bouyed by the return of CHF Brent Staker and other inclusions are Tim McEvoy, Brady Allen and Sean Mewing, all likely to bolster the backline for the Pies. Staker is again a huge in for the Pies as he takes the best defender but also straightens the Pies attack. McEvoy returns after missing last week and the Pies will no doubt be keen to win for TMac's 200th Senior game. Allen comes back after a week to re-charge in the Reserves and Mewing returns after 2 Reserves matches following long term injury, a great result for a season of hard work.
Out of the side are the injured Chris Hunt (hamstring) and Jordan Bourke (back) while Matt Sondergeld has a family wedding and omitted is Aaron Maricic after struggling for form in recent matches.
Tim McEvoy comes back in for his 200th Senior game and he and Sean Mewing are the experienced duo in an otherwise young backline. Tyler Jones was down last week like many of his teammates but has been brilliant in recent matches with run and carry off half back. Charlie Pershouse is unlucky not to be named as this week's QAFL Rising Star after a great game last week and he holds down fullback but may need some assistance against a strong opponent.
Brady Allen's wake-up call will hopefully having him back firing and he does provide the pies with an x-factor--although selected on a back flank he can be moved forward if needed.
Round 16 Syd Guilford Award nominee in Luke Scott had a rare day off last week and expect him to rebound and he starts up forward this week.
Jadan Morton has been a consistent performer on ball and will need to continue that form in ruck and Nick Barling gets better each week since his return from injury.
The Pies midfield lowered their colours last week and will be keen to bounce back. Gareth Crawford had a rare off day and with Cal Carseldine, Ben Jaenke-Cain and Drew Mitchell will, need to lift to ensure adequate supply to the Pies forwards.
Staker at CHF is a big bonus for the Pies and with Scott also up forward and Alex Dickfos off the bench the Pies have a three marking options. Sam Copland on the lead and Brenton Saunders also an option the Pies will hope to get better outcomes for effort after last week's poor showing.
It is all on the line for both teams so expect a fierce contest with the Pies wanting to put last week's debacle behind them and secure a finals berth and with a win hold onto third place on the ladder.
A third place finish opens up premiership possibilities for the Pies but a loss will take about 6 months to get over. It shouldbe nothing left in the tank for the Pies on Saturday!!
A big crowd is expected for a huge day of football for the Magpies and with the 1981 Sherwood Senior and Reserves premiership teams celebrating a reunion the Pies will be keen for a win to honour club legend Tim McEvoy's 200th match and ensure the reunion celebrations continue well after the final siren.
Western Magpies vs Surfers Paradise at the Nest, Saturday August 20 at 2pm
B: Tim McEvoy - Charlie Pershouse - Will Fletcher
HB: Brady Allen - David Lewis - Tyler Jones
C: Matt Davis - Cal Carseldine (C) - Val Pope
HF: Drew Mitchell - Brent Staker - Sam Copland
F: Brenton Saunders - Luke Scott - Gareth Crawford
Foll: Jadan Morton - Lachlan Woods (C) - Ben Jeanke-Cain
INT: Alex Dickfos - Nick Barling - Sean Mewing - Brodie Easton
EMG: Dom Beer - Richard Wenham - Liam Dwyer - Jordan Bourke