The ladder leading Woodsmen come up against the competition benchmarks of the past 2 seasons tonight in back to back Premiers, the Zillmere Eagles.
These 2 sides played out 3 thrilling contests in 2017, decided by 3 points, 1 point and a heartbreaking 4 point Major Semi Final loss that ultimately ended the Woodies season - so the Woodies will be eager to put their best foot forward.
Not just in 2017, but over many seasons it has always been a great contest between these two teams who have plenty in common. Plenty of older experienced heads, a dash of youth, questionable training habits and the ability to outlast opposition clubs in the bar post match are certainly common traits, as are a strong will to win and two sides who want to compete hard when they cross the white line.
As has been often the case this year, the Woodsmen have made plenty of changes this week but have at least managed to keep it to a (relatively speaking) low number of 5, which is a good sign as the side looks to build continuity.
Out go Mitch Merritt, Dylan Mudge both rested, Jamie Page and Jeffson Fehr-Smith who are unavailable and Brendan Garvey an unlucky omission after a solid outing on debut last week.
Into the side come Angus Wyllie & Braydon Thomas from the Reserves, live-wire Jake Fuentes and gun defender David Jackson back from injury and tall defender Simon Purkiss back from being unavailable due to family commitments.
It's a strong looking lineup this week, with a good mix of youth and speed to compliment the experienced core.
The Woodies strength has always been their resolute defence and this week will be no different, as there is an embarassment of riches to pick from with at least 12 blokes in the squad having claims to being part of the best back 6 on offer!
Matty Prior will line up in the opposite pocket to regular Reserves player Angus Wyllie making his Friday night Woodies debut. He is rumoured to be a bit of a hard nut, so should slot in nicely for the Woodies. In the square is the 'stopper' in Simon Purkiss, while its a very attacking half back line in 150 gamer Kiran Verma, Josh Young and the 'Minister of Defence' himself, David Jackson! Not to mention the versatile Chris 'Stink' La Burniy coming off the pine as a defensive rotation.
The starting on-ball division consists of experienced veterans in Andrew Thomson and Chris Judson, nicely complimented by the youth and speed of Will Llloyd and Sam Curtis with elder statesment in Ben Ness and Brenton Hocking changing from the pine. On the wings will be the youngters from Ipswich in Braydon Thomas and Tommy Roderick who will give the side plenty of speed and a quality work-rate.
Up front the Woodies will be looking for a little more from the Captain/Coach Chris Mihalopoulos who is down on form and has struggled to hit the scoreboard of late, while in contrast fellow veterans in Matt Hockley (20 goals in last 4 matches) and Jason Evans (3 on Woodies debut last week) will be key targets and will look to bring Mika into the game to get some confidence back.
At ground level the live-wire Jake Fuentes transforms the look of the team with his speed and agility, while the mercurial Shayne Baldwyn will be looking to take some hangers and crumb plenty of footy as well - not even he knows which option he'll take! Mr Consistent, Chris Davis will be applying plenty of forward pressure with his tackling and harassment while also looking to hit the scoreboard and key forwards with his accurate kicking. The in form Alec Parsons offers versatility off the bench where he can change on the wing, as well as play small or tall up forward.
Get down to McCarthy Homes Oval tonight at 7:30pm for what should be a cracking night of footy to celebrate Special K's 150th game.
Woodsmen vs Zillmere - 730pm Fri June 1
B: MattyP - Simmo - Angus
HB: K - Josh - Jacko
C: Braydon - Juddo - Tommy
HF: Davo - Hocks - Shayno
F: Mika - Evo - Jakey
Foll: Thommo - WillL - Sammy
Int: Alec - BrentonH - Stinko - Nessy
EMG: Mitch - Brendon - Mudgee