By Beth Newman
PALM BEACH v MORNINGSIDE
It’s the biggest game of the year so far and top two sides, Morningside and Palm Beach are bringing in some big guns.
Palm Beach key forward, Bryce Perry-Bolt has been named in the Lions side, after two games out with a knee injury, while handy Morningside trio Adam Spackman, Rhys Power and Sam Faure all return from injury.
Southport-listed Dylan Troutman also comes into the Palm Beach team.
Palm Beach coach, Daryn Cresswell, said the match was another chance for his players to prove themselves on a big occasion, coming off their win over Labrador last week.
“Players build reputations in big games of footy,” he said.
“I was really pleased with the performance last week and they need to do that consistently.”
Regardless of the result, Cresswell said his younger brigade would feed off the chance to learn from some of the Panthers.
“You learn off playing on these guys,” he said.
“For our younger group, it’s a great chance.”
Morningside coach, David Lake, said he believed the match would be a battle of two of the competition’s sharpest footy minds, in Cresswell and Panthers assistant, Andrew Mellor.
“They’re both great operators and great tacticians, two of the best of the competition,” he said.
“They won’t go down without a fight, they’re imaginative.”
Lake said both sides had come a long way since their Rd 3 clash, which the Panhers claimed by 20 points, their closest margin of the year.
“We’ve played our new game plan 13 times and last week it clicked (against Sandgate),”he said.
“We should be better than we were in go number 3.”
“We’ll be harder to play against than we were and they’ll be better.
“It’s a measurement of where we’ve got to.”
The Panthers will miss Matt Logan (work), who has been sensational for the side this year.
WESTERN MAGPIES v SURFERS PARADISE
Saturday’s clash with Surfers Paradise will be the final roll of the dice for the Western Magpies’ finals chance.
Sitting in seventh, a game behind the Demons, a win is the only result that will keep them in the final five calculation, a fact of which coach, Glenn Humphrey is all too aware.
“It’s our last chance, the last roll of the dice,” he said.
“It’s a big game, they don’t come any bigger.”
The magpies will have some tall timber in their line-up, an attribute which could play into their hands against a smaller Surfers Paradise defence, with Tom Michael and Matt Garland coming into the side for the match.
They will be without consistent performer Ben Jaenke-Cain for the must-win clash, but Humphrey was confident his team would have the depth to deal with that.
Surfers will have an injection of youth for the clash, with Queensland U18s Braydon Preuss, James Holland and Darcy Trask all coming into the side.
Preuss’ inclusion is particularly significant, with regular ruckman, Michael Cunningham set to miss the match and Demons coach, Beau Zorko, was excited by the young talent set to be on show.
“They add that little bit extra enthusiasm and energy,” he said.
“They make things happen and their skills are generally very good.
“If we don’t’ win tomorrow, it won’t be a personnel issue, it will be an execution issue.”
Zorko said his side would embrace the do or die challenge of the match, with a win potentially putting them right in the fight for fifth.
MT GRAVATT v LABRADOR
Fifth spot is yet again on the line for Mt Gravatt, as they prepare to take on Labrador tomorrow.
The Vultures will field close to their strongest side of the season, with experienced player Sean Yoshiura back in the side, along with Redland-listed Rhys Estall, Adam Boon and Mitch Harley in the side.
Vultures coach, Brad Pollock hopes his side can continue to display the character they showed in their thriller against the Magpies last week.
“I think the good thing about last week we did show some really good character at the right times,“ he said.
“A couple of guys coming back and they are better for the run and there’s a lot of upside for us.”
They are without key defenders Kurt Niklaus (unavailable) and Blake Bantoft (hamstring), but will welcome back key players in captain, Ryan Davey, Kieran Daley, Hugh Wadsworth and Kieran LeJeune.
A loss would put the Tigers back in the mid-table logjam and Tigers coach, Steve Daniel, said a win against another team in the mix was their focus tomorrow.
“We just want to get back on the winners’ list,” he said.
“Some of the players we’ve brought in have been okay against bottom sides and middle side but better sides we just haven’t been good enough so that’s just the gap we’re trying to bridge.”
Daniel said it was a challenge to generate consistency in the side this season, after being cruelled by injury, with the club using 49 players through the year.
“All we’re trying to do is try and get that camaraderie and the group playing together and it’s been quite hard.”
UQ v BROADBEACH
Broadbeach will be focused on the contest against UQ tomorrow, coach, Wayne Petterd, says.
The Cats have been dominant in recent weeks, but Petterd said on a smaller ground at oval 7, the Cats would need to ensure they were winning the inside midfield battle and increasing their efficiency across the ground.
“We want to try and play a bit more contested footy, something that we probably haven’t done as well in the past,” he said.
“We’ve been working on ball execution and efficiency rate trying to keep that high on a small ground. “
The most pleasing thing for Petterd has been the performance of his side’s depth, with two more players coming in this week, in James Holland (QLD U18) and Matthew Spencer returning after six years living in Melbourne, both of whom will add a bit of aggression to the team.
“There’s still three or four changes again after coming off a 10-goal win so spots are up for grabs,” he said.
“If you lose three or four players normally, it can make you a bit hesitant, but we’re evenly balanced so we’re not really losing out on much.”
In-form defender, Liam Frawley, returns to the team after straining his shoulder a fortnight ago, in a major boost for the Cats, while tall, Kieran Brennan, returns to the Southport side in the NEAFL.
After a lean month, UQ is looking to show improvement as the season winds down, coach, Matt Stewart, said.
“I think it’s really important for them (the players) to see they’re progressing,” he said.
“They were bitterly disappointed last week, so they’re keen to make amends this week and we’ve addressed a few things shows as a result.
WILSTON GRANGE v SANDGATE
Wilston Grange captain, Steve Brittain, will play his first game in seven weeks, finally returning to the Gorillas outfit tomorrow.
Brittain has been out since the end of May, with hamstring and back problems and the club has taken a cautious approach with his recovery and Grange coach, Matt Trewhella, was confident he would be read y to go.
“He’s been our best player for the last two years, he’s the captain for a reason and he’s worked pretty hard to get back after a couple of setbacks,” he said.
Brittain was close to best on ground for Wilston Grange in their ANZAC clash against Sandgate, coming off a shoulder injury, and Trewhella hopes tomorrow’s return will be just as seamless.
The Gorillas will also be boosted by the inclusion of state u18 players, Harris Andrews and Henry Leong, in for their first games since before the National Championships.
After a tumultuous fortnight, Sandgate is looking to claw back some pride in the match, coach, Ian Carter, said.
“I suppose the last three weeks the club has been through a lot but the most important thing is we’ve all stuck together,” he said.
“We can’t put that emotion into this week, we need to put that aside and purely focus on the last 5 weeks.
‘We’re going to go in there confident to have a really good show at it.”
Queensland U18 player, Nick Jackson, will return from state and Lions reserves duties for the Hawks, giving them a boost in defence while captain, Michael Richardson has overcame a knee complaint to line up for the match.
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Lisa McKoy – AFLQ Media Manager (41)
Simon Devine – AFLQ Competition Manager (45)
Breeanna Brock – AFLQ Female Programs Manager (41)
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AFLQ Football Operations Manager (42)
Beth Newman – AFLQ Community Football Writer (50)