By Terry Wilson
THERE is only once certainty going into the final round of one of the craziest QAFL seasons in history.
That certainty is that Palm Beach Currumbin will take the minor premiership even if they lose to Mt Gravatt at Salk Oval.
But as for the other four spots in the top five, who knows? It is an absolute raffle with countless permutations depending on results.
Any one of Broadbeach, Mt Gravatt, Western Magpies or Morningside can finish second.
Surfers and the Magpies are fighting for finals survival at Small Park where the loser will go into mothballs – that is, if Morningside beat Sandgate.
Should the Hawks bring off another major upset, like they did earlier in the season, then an unlikely draw at Small Park would be enough to get both the Demons and the Magpies into the top five.
Surfers Paradise v Western Magpies
At Sir Bruce Small Park, 2pm Saturday
Surfers Paradise: Ins: Jack Prestegar. Outs: Hunter Pierce (finger).
Western Magpies: Ins: Jakob de Winter, Brenton Saunders. Outs: Sam Copland (inj), Aaron Maricic (omit).
Last time they met: Western Magpies 18.8 (116) d Surfers Paradise 9.6 (60), R5 at McCarthy Homes Oval.
THE only logical equation attached to the Sir Bruce Small Park showdown on Saturday is that the winner will live another day and the loser will be in mothballs.
Surfers Paradise (sixth on the ladder but level on 36 points with fourth-placed Western Magpies) play the Magpies in a pressure-packed clash where there is so much on the line.
Given that Morningside (also on 36 points), should stitch up a top-five berth against bottom side Sandgate, it is all or nothing for the Dees and the Magpies.
“It’s pretty simple, you win you play finals, you lose you don’t,” said Surfers coach Brad Moore.
“Ultimately both teams are going to have to work their backsides off to play finals.”
The last time the sides met, in the fifth round, the Magpies smashed Surfers by
56 points at McCarthy Homes Oval.
Ironically Moore feels that lesson was the turning point for his side.
“We have come a long way since then,” Moore said.
“Since that game we haven’t lost a game by more than a couple of goals and our form has been quite good and we’ve been consistent with our performances.”
The respect Moore has for the tough Magpies is obvious but he feels his side matches up well against the weekend rivals.
The lure for the Demons is a home elimination final by finishing fourth.
The Magpies have a rough chance of grabbing second, and a home qualifying final, if other results go their way, although coach Brydan Morgan believes the more realistic target is third.
“All we have to worry about is winning,” he said.
“I’m confident we can win and the fire is burning within the group.
“I respect Surfers for what they’ve done but they’d want to be on because the boys are pretty hungry.
“The expectation is there that they need to get the job done.”
Surfers have just the one change to the side that lost to Mt Gravatt after the siren last weekend.
Defender Jack Prestegar is back from injury to replace injured teenager Hunter Pierce.
The Magpies have only two changes, regaining forward Jakob de Winter and Brenton Saunders, who replace injured Sam Copland and Aaron Maricic.Rd19 - Demons v Magpies
Palm Beach Currumbin v Mt Gravatt
At Salk Oval, 2pm Saturday
Palm Beach Currumbin: Ins: Jarryd Douglas, Jackson Emblem, Jesse Derrick, Josh Woolley. Outs: Liam McNeven (knee), Todd Grayson (work), Tom Frazer (omit), Taylor Hombsch (omit).
Mt Gravatt: Ins: Jonah Licht, James London, Tim Douge, Dean Benson. Outs: Jesse Green (concussion), Frazer Neate (concussion), Kailem Baker (Redland), Daniel Morgan (omit).
Last time they met: Palm Beach Currumbin 9.14 (68) d Mt Gravatt 8.7 (55), R10 at Dittmer Park.
IT is an amazing the things that can happen in football.
Take Mt Gravatt, for instance, who have the major task of beating premiers Palm, Beach Currumbin at Salk Oval on Saturday.
A perfect example of how fortunes can change so quickly in this great game can be found last weekend when Mt Gravatt beat Surfers Paradise by two points with an after-the-siren goal from Sam Stubbs.
Up until that nail-biting finish, the Vultures season looked over with a loss that would have dropped them to sixth.
Yet, here they are this weekend with a chance of cementing second spot – they need to win and have Labrador bowl over Broadbeach – while at the same time being a big chance of dropping to fifth if they lose.
Coach Daniel Webster is realistic about the possibilities that could come from the PBC clash.
“If we win we’ll finish third because I expect Broadbeach and Morningside to win,” he said.
What could hurt the Vultures is their poor percentage of only 104.84, the worst of any of the top six sides.
PBC will start warm favourites on the strength of a number of key inclusions.
The Lions, who beat Wilston Grange last round, have named Jackson Emblem, Jarryd Douglas, Jesse Derrick and Josh Woolley, all four of them guns, for the match.
Defender Liam McNeven and Todd Grayson are the big omissions, McNeven injured and Grayson with work.
Mt Gravatt have promoted James London, Tim Douge and Dean Benson from the reserves at a stage where the Vultures are struggling under an injury load.
An interesting player for Mt Gravatt will be last weekend’s last-gasp match winner Sam Stubbs.
Stubbs first came to prominence in Queensland when he played for Palm Beach Currumbin for a couple of seasons.Rd19 - Lions v Vultures
Broadbeach v Labrador
At Subaru Oval, 2pm Saturday
Broadbeach: Ins: Matt Conroy, Rhys Finn, Connor Harris, Jacob Sholl. Outs: Xavier McMahon (suspension), Brennan (inj), Liam Nelson (inj), Tom Benson (omit).
Labrador: Ins: Billy Birch, Jaicob Kenny, Nathanael Kennell, Matt Daniel, Corey Mullins, Brayden Pitcher. Outs: Dyson Budarick (shoulder), Sam Walker (ankle), Brad Carter (groin), Jarrod Mills (back), Chris Talbot (omit), Kye Newson (omit).
Last time they met: Broadbeach 15.15 (105) d Labrador 7.10 (52), R5 at Cooke-Murphy Oval.
A HOME-GROUND qualifying final is the reward for Broadbeach when they host cross-town rivals Labrador in a Gold Clast derby at Subaru Oval.
Victory would assure the Cats of a second-place finish for the finals, but a loss could result in anything – even a finish as low as fourth.
But there is danger to this derby with the Tigers sure to be fired up to farewell their coach of two seasons, Aaron Shattock, who is stepping down from the role after Saturday.
It is this emotional factor that has Broadbeach coach Brett Andrews concerned.
“They know it’s Shatts’ last game and they won’t be any pushover,” Andrews said.
“Labrador have had a tough season, but we have our destiny in our own hands. If we don’t beat them then we don’t deserve to finish second.”
Coming off a bye, the Cats should be fresh even though they have made four changes, including the loss of big Xavier McMahon.
Labrador’s losses include midfielder Dyson Budarick and last game 100-matches celebrant Sam Walker.
So, both sides elected to use the match to blood new talent.
Broadbeach included redhead North Queensland ruckman Matt Conroy, from the Gold Coast SUNS academy, and a second youngster set for his senior’s debut is Jacob Sholl a local junior product.
Labrador named Billy Birch, ironically a former Broadbeach junior, for his debut, along with Nathanael Kennell.
Asked if it was a gamble blooding two new players one week out from finals, Andrews said the Cats need some leg speed, hence the decision.
Shattock is handing over the coaching role after two seasons, although his association with the Tigers goes back to 2007 after his AFL career with Brisbane and Port Adelaide.Rd19 - Cats v Tigers
Sandgate v Morningside
At Lemke Road Oval, 2pm Saturday
Sandgate: Ins: Haydyn Cliff, Tristan Juffs-King. Outs: Ben McElligott (hamstring), Jordan Maynard (family).
Morningside: Ins: Kent Abey, Sam Godfrey. Outs: Brad Hodge (omit), Matt Serrurier (ill).
Last time they met: Sandgate 14.13 (97) d Morningside 13.7 (85), R5 at Jack Esplen Oval.
COACH Steve Wildschut has assured the Morningside faithful that his players will be switched on to avoid a second defeat at the hands of Sandgate this season.
The last time the sides met, Sandgate brought off a huge upset, downing the Panthers by 12 points at Jack Esplen Oval.
The return bout is on at Lemke Road Oval where the motivation for the Panthers is significant – win and they will play finals, lose and there is a slim chance they could miss the September action.
Morningside are level on points with Western Magpies and Surfers Paradise, who clash on the Gold Coast.
Wildschut knows any slackening off in attitude could prove so costly to his players but senses the desire to reverse the last result against the Hawks has been burning for some time.
“We’re in a different head space than early in the season when they got us,” Wildschut said.
But even though Sandgate coach Jarad Marsh acknowledges the chances of springing a second upset win over the Panthers are at long odds, that does not mean the home side is going to hand over the points easily.
Asked if he feels the Hawks can turn giant killers again, Marsh said: “We’d like to think so, otherwise we wouldn’t bother turning up.
“I’ve been pretty proud of the boys this year and they’ve just got to give me two more hours of effort.”
At the selection table Morningside came up trumps with the returns of super veteran Kent Abey and 2017 Queensland representative Sam Godfrey.
Sandgate regain Haydyn Cliff and Tristan Juffs-King but lose Ben McElligott (hamstring) and Jordan Maynard (family).
Defender McElligott played a major role the last time the sides met when he blanketed Abey.Rd19 - Hawks v Panthers