The Western Magpies will be keen to bounce back after the disappointment of last week's narrow loss when they are at home to Labrador at McCarthy Homes Oval at Chelmer on Saturday. It will be a celebratory affair as the ribbon is cut on the new look playing surface and picturesque new picket fence and to top it off, new goalposts with new pads to tidy up the look.
The Pies had more inside 50s than their opponents last week and although beaten in the midfield contest were able to produce enough contested and turnover football to remain in the contest.
The Pies welcome another debutant in Riley Greene, who is an impressive 17 yo half back/utility who stood out in a badly beaten Reserves team last week. A member of the Park Ridge QFA Senior Premiership side last year at just 16 , he looks ready made for QAFL football and we welcome Riley to senior footy in the black & white. Brenton Saunders gets his chance this week, though likely will find himself in defence. Out are the injured Will Fletcher with an ankle and he will miss 2 weeks. Fletcher was impressive through the midfield which is a new role for him and he will only grow in that role when he returns. Also out is Dan Edwards, a youngster who has a big upside but will benefit from a run in the Reserves.
The Magpies back half looked somewhat disjointed last Saturday and will be better for the run in this match. Normally reliable defenders in Luca Winton, Doug Lawrence and Aaron Highlands made some uncharacteristic errors and expect them to be better this week. Also better for the run with be ex-Lion Claye Beams, who found it hard to put a stamp on the contest last week and he will quickly transition to the tempo of QAFL football and then look out!!
Likewise new key forward Brody Lumber will be better for the run but he was still a good player last week and Jack Austin provides a strong contest up forward and he will kick a bag one day--hopefully on Saturday. Several ‘hangers’ last week showed he is ready for a big year and growing in confidence to fly at his marks.
Liam Dwyer was a workhorse last week in ruck and he looks stronger and fitter than in recent seasons and is a key player for the Pies. Riley Easton was a terrior last week and knows no other way than full on attack at the contest and former Pies skipper Cal Carseldine will be another one better for the run after he had an interrupted pre-season at Aspley. New players in Tom Baulch and Redlands aligned Harrison Kerr looked the part last week in the midfield and will also get better this week as they become accustomed to the Magpies playing style.
Labrador have bookends in ex-AFL players in CHB Wayde Mills, who controls their defensive half, and full forward Bryce Retzlaff, and how the Pies control these two will go a long way in determine the result.
The Pies won both contests last year but both were tight battles and the Tigers are reported to have recruited well so expect another tough and tight contest in the Magpies first official QAFL match at the newly refurbished McCarthy Homes Oval.