By Beth Newman
MATCH OF THE ROUND:
PALM BEACH v LABRADOR
Construction has shifted this game to Coolangatta, but the stakes of the Palm Beach-Labrador clash have not changed.
The two sides look likely feature among the top sides this season, and this match will give one an early advantage, and outright second spot.
Tigers coach, Steve Daniel, said while a win would be nice, it wouldn’t be panic stations if they didn’t come home with the four points.
“It’s still early in the season, but a win would be great,” he said.
“If it doesn’t go our way, we won’t be hitting the old panic buttons, there’s still a lot of footy left.
“It would be a really important win; we would like to win it.”
After sloppy conversion in recent weeks, both sides will look to straighten up in front of goals.
Daniel said goal kicking had been a key focus for his team after poor returns in the opening rounds.
“There’s no excuse for it,” he said.
The Tigers lose Kieran LeJeune (SUNS reserves), Matt Freeman (injury) in the match, while Todd Featherstone returns from suspension.
While key forward Bryce Perry-Bolt, poised for a cracking battle with the Tigers’ Kurt Niklaus, is an obvious danger in the Palm Beach line-up, Daniel said players like captain, Jesse Derrick, would be high on their radar.
“I coached Jesse in the QLD U18 side and I know how good he is and how damaging he can be, in the midfield or on the half-back flank,” he said.
“We just need to make sure when we get the footy, we hang on to it.”
Palm Beach welcomes Sam Kitchin , Zac Callinan and Tim Fielding into their side for the match, while Brock Askey has been named, despite suffering an ankle injury last weekend.
UQ v SURFERS
One of either UQ or Surfers will claim a vital first win this weekend.
The Red Lions will be keen to prove themselves in their first home game, but coach Matt Stewart, said they wouldn’t be preoccupied with their opposition
“It’s silly to try and compare ourselves to the opposition,” he said.
“We’re improving the things where we’re not great.
“We want to make sure we’re prepared and getting better each week.”
UQ has made eight changes to their side for the match, headlined by new recruit Tim Davison, in his first game for the club.
A former Ainslie player, Davison will add plenty of experience to the UQ team, Stewart said.
“He’s a mature player and a proven footballer,” he said.
“He’ll help to settle our side a lot, particularly with a lot of kids around.”
UQ will be looking to improve its discipline this weekend, after giving up eight 50m penalties last week.
Surfers Paradise coach, Beau Zorko, said things would be kept pretty simple for his side tomorrow, after 14 changes in the last fortnight, including six this time around.
“We’ve had a mass turnover of players in the last two weeks and we’re looking to really simplify things until we manage some stability in our side,” he said.
“We certainly feel we have the talent and ability and creative flair with the ball in hand but we’re not giving ourselves a chance to show that.
“We’re not getting our basics and our fundamentals right.”
The Demons will bring in Michael Cunningham, Chris Mitchell, Joel Foster and Connor Manning, with Daniel Green laying his first senior game for 2014, while Joe Barille also plays his first senior game for the Demons.
James Farley-Smith and Dylan Mutu will miss with state U18 duties, while Trent McIntyre, Nick Barling and Hugh Priest are all out.
WILSTON GRANGE v BROADBEACH
It’s only early in the year, but Wilston Grange coach, Matt trewhella, knows how important Sunday’s match against Broadbeach could be.
With matches against Morningside and Palm Beach coming up, Trewhella said a win this weekend could give his side crucial momentum.
“A 3-1 start looks better than 2-2,” he said.
“We’re expecting a really good challenge and if we can get this one, then we’ve got some momentum heading into Morningside.”
The Gorillas have taken a cautious approach with injured players this weekend, With Matt Nickerson, Ben Haire, Daniel Campbell and Lachie Nixon-Smith all sitting out.
Trewhella said his side would be able to withstand those losses against the Cats.
“Our spine is still there and the majority of our senior players are still there,” he said.
“We don’t want niggles to turn into bigger injuries and then limp into a game against Morningside.”
“It’s a youthful side but we want to try and win.”
Jordan McIvor- Clark will make his debut for the Gorillas on Sunday, while youngster Gary Vass comes back into the side.
The Cats have proven themselves to be likely finals contenders and will be more intimidating, welcoming captain, Matt Fife, into the side for the first time in 2014.
Cats coach, Wayne Petterd, said it was great to have Fife back in the side.
“He’s (Fife) a smart ball user and he’ll be really important for the group,” he said.
Petterd said he was focused on seeing his side continue to improve against the Gorillas.
“It’s important that we keep progressing and keep playing as a group and the end result will look after itself,” he said.
With five sides on two wins heading into the weekend, Petterd acknowledged the importance of the match, with a win potentially propelling the victor up the ladder.
“There are five sides on the same points and so a win would be a bonus at this stage,” he said.
MT GRAVATT v WESTERN MAGPIES
They played a gritty practice match in the lead up to the QAFL season, and tomorrow is likely to be much of the same, as Mt Gravatt hosts the Western Magpies.
In that match, the Magpies edged over the line in a thriller, and coach, Glenn Humphrey, believes his side can do it again.
“We snuck home in a close contest and I’d like to think we can do it again,” he said.
“We’ve improved significantly since that match, but I would’ve thought they have as well.”
After shaky starts in their past two matches, Humphrey said his team would need to launch off the right foot against the Vultures.
“We can’t keep coming from behind sides and chasing,” he said.
“We need to be switched on from the very first bounce.”
The Magpies have five changes for the weekend, with Matt Uebergang (state U18), Cory Hopkins (Redland), Peter Kilroy (ankle), Billy Moorhead and Dom Beer unavailable.
Cam Thomas, Drew Mitchell, Richard Wenham, Tom Ielasi and Aaron Yusia-Marcic come into the side for the Vultures game.
Vultures coach, Brad Pollock, echoed Humphrey’s prediction of a close game, underlining the significance of the result as well.
“I think it’s going to be a very good game,” he said.
“The importance can’t be downplayed at all.
“In the overall scheme of things, it’s a must win.
“If you win these, it positions you better for later in the year.
Pollock said his side would need to improve its conversion and delivery into attack against the Magpies.
SANDGATE v MORNINGSIDE
Sandgate will be looking to claw back some respect against Morningside, when they meet tomorrow.
Hawks coach, Rob Dickfos, said they had improved greatly since the sides’ pre-season clash, and were buoyed by the effort of Palm Beach against the Panthers last weekend.
“It’s okay for them to gain favouritism because of previous years in the level they’re used to playing, but (Palm Beach coach, Daryn) Cresswell proved our level wasn’t too bad,” he said.
“Anyone who’s come back from the NEAFL and thinks that it’s going to be a lot easier are kidding themselves and anyone from the Allied Pickfords Cup last year who are playing in QAFL can draw confidence from Palmy’s performance.”
The Hawks have six inclusions this week and Dickfos said the weekly shuffle was still a big adjustment for the team.
“It is a challenge and it’s hard to get them to bond quickly, but in the end both parties have to understand their responsibility.”
“It’s a matter of going out and letting your actions do the talking.”
Seventeen year-old, Adam Tipungwuti, will add some excitement to the Hawks’ forward line in his first senior game.
Moningside coach, David Lake, said his team was only more motivated to improve this weekend.
“From the rest of the competition, if they think they found a way to make us vulnerable, that just reminds us that we’ve got to continue to play,” he said.
“we need to get better at who we are.”
“Consistency, consistency, consistency.”
In-form ruckman, Peter Mollison, is unavailable for the game, giving James O’Donnell an opportunity to step up, while Michael Wyld and Ash Evans come into the side.
Ben Dalton will make his senior debut for 2014 for Callum Kinch (calf) and Dustin Gordon, has also been called up after a strong start to the season in the twos, replacing Jamie Hackett (hamstring).
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