The Western Magpies will be full of confidence going into their QAFL Qualifying Final clash with Palm Beach-Currumbin at Currumbin on Saturday.
The Pies had a nail biting win last week to secure the double chance but it has instilled confidence into the group, while PBC had a 6 goal first quarter against Labrador but booted only 2 more goals for the game as Labrador ran riot.
The Pies have named an extended interchange bench with an illness cloud over young fullback Charlie Pershouse and they have brought in Richard Wenham after recovering from injury and Matt Sondegeld after missing through unavailability to both add pace to the side and Luke Mitchell comes onto the extended bench after missing the past 3 matches due to work commitments.
The Pies have looked to pick a 'horses-for-course's team as the last time these two met in round 11 the Pies won by 9 goals after being themselves thrashed by a similar margin in round 5. In the first clash the Pies were beaten for pace and outside run but in the second game the Magpies had a faster team, and were more intense at the contest and reversed the earlier result--hence Wenham and Sondergeld back into the side to inject pace and intensity.
In the last clash, Brent Staker booted 5 goals and Sam Copland his second 4 goal haul in 2 outings in Senior football at Salk Oval, and they again figure as key forwards for the Pies. Staker avoiding the wrath of the QAFL Tribunal was great news for the Magpies as he will be a vital player in the finals. He will be better for the run last week after missing 4 games with injury and with Alex Dickfos running into form at the right time of the year the Pies have a strong forward set up. Copland has regained his leading and marking mojo and he will be a great foil for Staker and Dickfos. That does not even include Luke Scott who will play some role up forward and Val Pope was missing the last time these sides met so while named on a wing is known to drift forward to kick the odd goal.
The engine room has had some fits and starts recently but Cal Carseldine and Ben Jaenke-Cain have been consistent ball winners and were keys to the Pies win in round 11.
Gareth Crawford was dominant through the middle part of the season, and while slowing down a bit recently - he is a class player who has plenty of finals experience and will revel in the increased tempo and intensity of finals football and is expected to regain his outstanding mid-season form.
Jadan Morton has been superb in Ruck with a good leap and his mobility has been a bonus, playing as a ruck-rover around the ground. Drew Mitchell is shaking off a nagging foot injury and last week started to get back to his mid season form on ball and across half forward where he has also kicked crucial goals for the Pies.
Luke Scott has also spent some time on a wing and Matt Davis floats there as well so the centreline has plenty of class.
Down back youngsters in Charlie Pershouse and Will Fletcher have done all that was asked of them but Pershouse has a virus and will be fitness tested tomorrow morning. Fletcher providespace out of defence to add to Tyler Jones and Sean Mewing's run and carry and they also complement the experience and toughness of 200 gamer Tim McEvoy.
David Lewis has been a revelation at CHB taking on both tall and/or leading CHFs and matching them in the air and on the ground.
Wenham has been named at fullback but will likely play and little more up the ground--his tackling pressure at the contest and closing speed will be valuable on the small Salk Oval.
Who starts favourite in this match is anyone's guess but the Pies have enjoyed success over the years at Salk Oval and it does not hold any fears for them. The Magpies' hardness at the contest and then spread and run will be crucial to the outcome and if they can replicate their round 11 form then will be well on the way to a win and an appointment with Labrador the following Saturday for a chance to get to the big one.
Western Magpies vs Palm Beach Currumbin Lions - Salk Oval, Currumbin - Sat Aug 27th @ 2pm
B: Tim McEvoy - Richard Wenham - Will Fletcher
HB: Sean Mewing - David Lewis - Tyler Jones
C: Matt Davis - Cal Carseldine (C) - Val Pope
HF: Drew Mitchell - Brent Staker - Sam Copland
F: Brenton Saunders - Luke Scott - Matt Sondergeld
Foll: Jadan Morton - Lachlan Woods (c) - Ben Jaenke-Cain
Int (from): Alex Dickfos - Nick Barling - Gareth Crawford - Brodie Easton - Brady Allen - Luke Mitchell - Charlie Pershouse
EMG: Dom Beer - Liam Dwyer