HUNT AND MURRAY KEY INS FOR PIES RESERVES IN FIRST FINAL
The Western Magpies Reserves continue their run of do-or-die matches when they contest thn QAFL Elimination Final against old rivals Palm Beach-Currumbin at Surfers Paradise on Sunday.
The Pies won 6 of their past 7 matches but due to a slow start to the season it was still up in the air if they would qualify for the finals until they won in the final round. The season gradually built pace throughout the year as the Pies depth is very strong, with 19 of the Reserves 22 on Sunday having Senior football experience and the 3rds playing off in a Grand Final tonight (an unable to utlise a number of players who miss out on the reserves team this weekend)
The Pies have two quality ins with vice captain and centre half back Chris Hunt returning after a missing dude to a family event last week and hard-nut midfielder Logan Murray comes back in after missing last week with a knee complaint.
Out are Monty Vine and Tristan Dowdy, both named as emergencies. Both are nursing some sore spots and have largely been rested but both could play if there are any late withdrawals.
Hunt is a big in for coach Des Lashman as he organises the backline and ensures the defensive structure remains steady and he also takes the key opposition forward and rarely has his colours lowered. With the irrepressible Peter Kilroy on one side and Kurt Vine the other they form a sold half back line and then with Harry Marshall at fullback and Zach Collison in the pocket the Pies have a strong defensive unit that will make the Lions forwards work hard to score.
Murray adds to a strong midfield mix and with his bullocking style of play is suited to the increased intensity of finals football. The midfield looks particularly strong with Val Pope striking rare form, Lachie Dennis having a good run of high quality matches, Brodie Easton providing the link through the middle and Gareth Crawford enjoying a new lease of life and picking up a bit of zip along the way. Add Aaron Maricic and Sam DeNys to the mix and the Pies rotations now have plenty of depth.
The ruck division also looks good with Gerard Moore turning back the clock with vintage ruckwork and Nathan Congram has been a model of consistency this year.
Up forward Jeremy DeRooy and Jack Austin provide the tall marking options and both are not afraid to hit the packs and at ground level the livewire Sam Parker and Rory Johnson have the pace and good reading of the play to create goal scoring opportunities.
The Pies have come into the finals in good form but as all know finals football is a different kettle of fish and the intensity goes up a notch and the pressure, real or imagined, can be overwhelming. How the Pies handle the pressure of the first quarter will go a long way to determining the outcome. The Pies went down narrowly to PBC in their first encounter on the coast in a match the should have won then won the easily on the return bout at Chelmer.
The Lions will be a strong unit so it will be a tough and typical finals encounter but the Pies have the side to prevail and keep the momentum going for another week.
QAFL Elimination Final: Western Magpies Reserves v Palm Beach-Currumbin at Surfers Paradise on Sunday, September 2nd at 11.30 am
B: Sam DeNys Harry Marshall Kurt Vine
HB: Zach Collison Chris Hunt (vc) Peter Kilroy
C: Rory Johnson Brodie Easton Sam Hartog
HF: Val Pope Jack Austin Sean Mewing (Capt)
F: Nathan Congram Jeremy De Rooy Sam Parker
Rucks: Gerard Moore Aaron Maricic Gareth Crawford
I/C: Lachlan Dennis, Matt Mazarolle, Logan Murray, Sean McEvoy
Emerg: Sempitake Kwizera, Monty Vine, Tristan Dowdy