Game of the round this week is between the Magpies and the Gorillas at Chelmer.
SOME are tipping today’s cross-river Brisbane derby between the Western Magpies and Wilston-Grange as a possible preview of a much bigger event down the Pineapple Hotel Cup track.
For sure, the clash at Chelmer Oval is one between teams touted as definite premiership fancies, although Grange coach David Martin says it is way, way too early to tag either side, particularly his, as a title favourite.
Solid off-season recruiting programs, particularly by the Grange, have been supported by impressive performances over the opening two rounds.
So far the Magpies have smashed Springwood by 112 points and Sandgate by 95. The Grange have beaten Burleigh by 95, although they had a big scare before beating big improvers Mayne by nine points last round.
Asked if he agrees with the line that the Gorillas are strong premiership fancies, Martin replied: “I don’t know about that. I haven’t seen the other teams and how can you say Noosa aren’t favourites?’’
Then Martin was asked if he is happy with where his Gorillas are at so early in the new season, Martin responded: “I suppose we’re not going to see what we’re really like for another five or six weeks.
“Against Burleigh in the first round we had 11 first-gamers to the club, so it’s going to take us a while (to gel).
“I haven’t been really happy with the way we’ve been going, we have a fair bit of work do to and that’s up to the players.’’
The Gorillas have two changes, bringing back midfield pair Grayson McIvor and South Australian recruit Dave Kettle from injuries.
They replace Stu Galloway and Lochie Moir in the side.
While Martin and the Gorillas are circumspect about their situation at the moment, there is a feeling at Chelmer that the Magpies are ready to sweep for a premiership tilt after they were bundled out of the 2011 finals series in straight sets.
Veteran skipper Chris Mihalopoulos believes the combination of youngsters learning in 2011, plus the injection of some key recruits, will blend into a winning recipe.
"We’ve been happy with our recruits, but from all reports the top five or so team have all done well,’’ he said.
"But with what we’ve got I’m definitely a lot more confident we can go all the way this year."
"I say that because of the experience the younger players gained from last season, plus the recruiting. It’s still early, but everything’s looking pretty good.’’
The Magpies have just the one change this weekend, losing central defender Ed McDonnell (ankle) and bringing in Conrad Hudghton as his replacement.
SURFERS Paradise hope to honour long-time club stalwart Norma Bull in the best possible way with their first win of the season against Springwood at Sir Brice Small Park today.
Mrs Bull, a former Demon committeewoman, and off-field inspiration, died early this week and her funeral service was held yesterday.
“It certainly has been an emotional week for the club,’’ coach Beau Zorko (pictured) said, I’m confident the memory of Mrs Bull will inspire the Demons against the Pumas.
On form, Surfers should win. They have dropped close decisions to Mayne and Palm Beach-Currumbin in the first two rounds while Springwood, in their only game, were hammered by the Western Magpies.
Zorko took plenty of positives from last weekend’s loss to PBC, pointing to a second half of 10 goals to six against as giving the club plenty to work on.
But there are four changes to the side. Out are Matt Boston (shin), Guy Tarrant (broken leg), Jack Bristow (back) and Dane Grant, back to Southport after playing on permit.
The replacements are Daniel McGavin, a recruit from Queanbeyan; Darcy Dienjes, younger brother of Ryan; experienced defender Chris Mitchell; and young Noa Corbett, son of club legend Wayne.
Struggling Coolangatta, playing numbers savaged so badly that the club has forfeited reserve grade, have a huge task today when they trek to the northern tip of the Sunshine Coast to play premiers Noosa at Weyba Road.
Coach Neil McKay said he has two players suspended, 10 or so injured and another half a dozen unavailable because of work.
That’s almost an entire team unavailable for a venture to a ground where the Blues have not won since the AFLSQ days in 2004.
The Blues’ last three visits to Weyba Road have resulted in hidings by 73 points last year, 152 in 2010 and 144 in 2009.
“We have 22 players, they have 22, and we have a good understanding on how they play,’’ McKay said of Coolangatta’s chances.
Burleigh, after two losses, are also on the road, facing up to Sandgate at Lemke Road Oval today.
This is a clash between two clubs butchered by off-season departures and one that is being tipped in some quarters as a battle between potential wooden-spooners.
“We have seven changes, all forced,’’ lamented Burleigh coach Zane Doubleday.
The absence of Mick Van Rossum, last week’s best player Jeremy Kohler and Cam Rowlands will certainly not help the Bombers.
The Hawks have also made a number of changes in an effort to restore some balance to the side.
Mayne travel up the highway to Fishermans rd and for the first time in a long while they travel as favourites. Mitch Ferguson has a team with a number of very experienced players, Andrew Housego, Luke Ferguson and Caleb Brown are all going to have a big influence in this game. Roger Delaney, on the other hand has a very young, inexperienced group.
The Roos showed last week against Noosa that they are capable of mixing it with the best for short periods of time, however they will need to on speed for the whole game if they are to grab their first win of the season.