The Woodsmen host the Sandgate Hawks tonight in a home Preliminary Final at 730pm.
A win will put the Woodies into their 5th Grand Final where they will take on fellow 2 time Friday night Premiers – Zillmere in what would surprisingly be the first time the two clubs have met in the big dance.
However, the Woodies first need to get past a resurgent Hawks side coming off a dominant win over Morningside last week. The Woodsmen have a great record vs the Hawks, having never dropped a game – however they did play out a thrilling draw early this year before the Woodies won the last two encounters by 40+ on each occasion.
Coming back into the side this week are reigning B&F winner Sam Curtis who was sorely missed in the 5 point loss to Zillmere last week, as well as ruckman Andrew Thomson for his 100th game for the Woodsmen, 2nd only behind Kiran Kerma. Also returning to the side are skipper Sean Toohey from a hamstring, defenders Tim Green and Matty Prior from calf and shoulder injuries and the McEvoy brothers in Tim and Brett who were both unavailable last week.
Once again, as is tradition for any Woodsmen outfit – the back 6 looks particularly strong. Prior and Young in the pockets and this week Lochie McDonald again moves to full-back for matchup reasons. In form defender Andrew Bell will no doubt spend significant time down there as well, once matchups become apparent. Across half back, the Woodies look particularly strong and also boast plenty of experience with Long and T.McEvoy on the flanks and S.Matthews filling the key post. In an embarassment of riches, Tim Green the perennial superstar CHB will start on the bench in his return from injury while Blake Barkley also starts on the bench and will no doubt be utilised both forward and back throughout the game.
Across the midfield is Verma on one wing, and Davis on the other with Hockley playing in the centre and directing traffic. Davis will no doubt spent some time on the ball, while Hockley can rest forward and be particularly dangerous as a marking option. In the ruck will be Thomson looking to work back hard in defence and also give his midfielders first use around the stoppages, while Garland and Curtis will be the starting on-ball brigade complimenting a quality midfield with their mix of speed and tackling pressure from Curtis and Garland as a traditional ruck rover who can take a good grab and ‘play tall’. On-ball rotations will also include B.McEvoy and G.Matthews, creating a touch of class by foot.
Across half-forward is the returning skipper, in form big man Moore will fill the key post with utility Baldwin on the other flank who has a bit of the mercurial about him with the ability to take a screamer and also get on the end of it at ground level.
Deep forward will feature G.Matthews in the one pocket, and the electric Jakey Fuentes in the other pocket creating plenty of headaches for the opposition. Out of the square will come Jay Baker who has hit some quality late season form and is a known big game player late in the year, kicking 6 goals in the Woodies 2014 Grand Final win – 5 before half time.
The Woodies will need to play as a strong cohesive unit despite another week of mass changes to take care of a dangerous Sandgate outfit and keep a close eye on the dangerous Hawks who have the ability to score quickly when on a role.
We encourage all the Magpie fans to get down to the club tonight and send the boys into the Grand Final next week in front of a big home crowd!