By Terry Wilson
Western Magpies (7) v Palm Beach Currumbin (1)
At McCarthy Homes Oval, 2pm Saturday
Ins: Western Magpies – Billy Johnson, Zane Lovell, Lachlan Dennis. Palm Beach Currumbin – Dale Neuhaus, Alex Dawson.
Outs: Western Magpies – Ryan Harwood (inj), Bruce Reville (Lions NEAFL), Gareth Crawford (unavail). Palm Beach Currumbin – Jack Marino (inj), Jack Johnston (Qld U17s).
Last time they met: Palm Beach Currumbin 16.14 (110) d Western Magpies 10.7 (67), Round 7 at Salk Oval.
The Western Magpies have been delivered a heavy blow with the loss of inspirational midfielder and former Brisbane Lions player Ryan Harwood for one of the club’s crunch fixtures of the season.
The Magpies are at a stage where they cannot afford to drop many more games, so the loss of Harwood, just when they are up against premiers Palm Beach Currumbin, is pretty significant.
The Magpies host the red-hot Lions at McCarthy Homes Oval on Saturday sitting seventh on the ladder with three wins and knowing a loss would make things really tough to be able to feature in finals.
Harwood is nursing a slight hip flexor strain but is expected to miss just the one match.
Adding to the hurt is the unavailability of Gareth Crawford, one of the club’s genuine in and under performers. He is unavailable this weekend.
Still, says coach Brydan Morgan, his side has been playing some good football, as they showed last round in an away loss to Broadbeach.
But he also knows that the Maggies will need to produce their very best to bring PBC’s unbeaten run to an end.
And what is needed to achieve this is genuine hard work at the coal face to keep possession away from the free-wheeling premiers whjo boast incredible depth in their on-ball division.
“Number one is that we certainly have to match them around the clearances,” said Morgan.
“We have to get the ball going our way from clearances and stop the Palm Beach surges.”
The Magpies have three forced changes – Harwood, Crawford and Bruce Reville (to Brisbane Lions NEAFL) and one of the inclusions is Redland-listed Billy Johnston, a winger.
PBC have only two changes, bringing in Alex Dawson and dual premiership defender Dale Neuhaus for Jack Marino and Jack Johnston.
While Morgan has highlighted the need for his troops to negate PBC’s significant run and spread, a key will be to spike gun full-forward Jack Anthony.
Anthony kicked nine goals in his return from ankle issues – an injury that occurred, ironically, against the Magpies in the seventh round.
Asked if Aaron Highlands will get the job on Anthony, remembering the good effort he put in up against Jason Cloke last weekend, Morgan said that match-up is unlikely.
“We think we have the right match-up for Anthony,” said Morgan without giving anything else away.
Where the Magpies could trouble the Lions lies with their forwards because the premiers are missing the likes of key defenders Jackson Emblem, Liam McNeven and Adam McKenzie.
If talls like Brody Lumber, Jack Austin and Samson Ryan can take a few grabs, then the Magpies would be on their way to a vital win.
Wilston Grange (8) v Surfers Paradise (4)
At Hickey Park, 2pm Saturday
Ins: Wilston Grange – Reed Maskell-Dobbyn, Gracen Sproule, Blake Nelis (Aspley), Luca Mason (Aspley), Jordan McDonald. Surfers Paradise – Cassidy Haberfield, Jack Yelland, Harris Newton, Haydn Kiel, Rene LeFeuvre.
Outs: Wilston Grange – Declan Warren (inj), Hugh Campbell (inj), Henry Leong (omit), Zac Puncken (colts), Glendon Woosup (unavail). Surfers Paradise – Cameron Topping (inj), Jasper Graham (unavail), Mitch Hopkins (omit), Chris Kranz (omit), Jack Taylor (omit).
Last time they met: Surfers Paradise 12.14 (86) d Wilston Grange 7.4 (46), Round 1 at Sir Bruce Small Park.
Wilston Grange coach Barry O’Brien has not yet written the season off just yet, but he clearly has the development of the club’s young players in mind as a priority.
To this end the Gorillas have elected to blood raw teenager Reed Maskell-Dobbyn for his seniors debut in the match against Surfers Paradise at Hickey Park on Saturday.
Maskell-Dobbyn will be only 15 years of age for his debut – he turns 16 on Monday – but O’Brien said the Sunshine Coast junior product has the physique to handle the rise in standard.
“Reed moved down from the Sunny Coast to play colts for us but he has earned his spot in the seniors,” said O’Brien.
“We’ve also picked Gracen Sproule from the colts.”
Asked if this was a sign the Gorillas have written off 2019, O’Brien said it is all about looking at the future of the club and where it can go.
“We still have to develop our kids, we have to bring them through,” said the senior coach.
It irks O’Brien that the Gorillas have not won since their Anzac Day eve victory over Sandgate and he insists the side is better than that record indicates.
Blake Nelis and Luca Mason, from Aspley NEAFL, will be significant inclusions against Surfers who themselves have been bolstered by the returns of some key performers.
Cassidy Haberfield, ruckman Harris Newton, star midfielder Jack Yelland, Southport-listed Haydn Kiel and speedy Rene LeFeuvre are all back for the Demons in what is a crucial match for them.
But coach Brad Moore says this does not necessarily equate to success. What is needed is sheer hard work for a club that needs to get its mojo back after three losses on the trot.
“Having some key personnel we structure up a lot better this week,” said Moore.
“But players need to need to action the performance rather than just have names on a piece of paper.
“So it’ll be a good challenge, Grange at the Grange is always a task, but we know we have to make things happen.”
Moore said a key factor in the Surfers record this year has been the result of a high turnover of players.
The Demons have used 46 players in seniors this season and that is a number few clubs would like to have.
Broadbeach (3) v Labrador (6)
At Subaru Oval, 2pm Sunday
Ins: Broadbeach – Nick Burton, Rainsford Stone, Kai Sheers, Isaac Miller. Labrador – Bryce Retzlaff, Alex McKay, Jaicob Kenny, Ben Fagan, Andy Hollis, Rob Clements.
Outs: Broadbeach – Aiden Fyfe (Qld U18s), Seb Rogers (Redland NEAFL), Liam Nelson (inj), Isaac Dineen (unavail). Labrador – Pat Murtagh (omit), Cooper Anderson (omit), Hugo Barry (omit), Blake Grant (inj), Emmanuel Baru (omit), Tyler Brown (omit).
Last time they met: Broadbeach 13.14 (92) d Labrador 5.10 (40), Round 6 at Cooke-Murphy Oval.
Labrador have loaded their arsenal with the return of six top-shelf performers for their Gold Coast derby against Broadbeach at Subaru Oval on Sunday.
Sitting just outside the top five, the Tigers can take outright fifth spot if they can see off the third-placed Cats.
And they have some heavy artillery returning after missing the club’s most recent win over Surfers Paradise a fortnight ago.
The big guns returning are captain and forward Bryce Retzlaff, midfielders Alex McKay and Ben Fagan, defender Jaicob Kenny, small forward Rob Clements and ruckman Andy Hollis.
That group represents oodles of experience and talent and has put the Cats on notice that the Tigers will be a far tougher opponent than the one that was trampled by 52 points earlier in the season.
“The key is to stem their ball movement because this is where they cut us up the last time,” said coach Liam Burke.
Burke said it was difficult for the club to drop a number of younger players who did their bit when the Tigers beat Surfers in their last appearance, which is a good sign and indicative of a growing depth in playing numbers.
But he pointed to the form of Broadbeach and the return of their forward and captain Matt Fowler with six goals last weekend.
An interesting selection for Broadbeach is Rainford Stone, son of Channel 7 news presenter Bianca, for his seniors debut with the club.
Stone had played seniors for Surfers before his recent switch across town to Broadbeach where he will play as a defender.
“He joined us a couple of weeks ago and has been impressive in the way he has gone about training,” said coach Beau Zorko.
“He came over seeking an opportunity to play seniors football and he has earned his spot.”
Nick Burton, Kai Sheers and Isaac Miller are the other inclusions for Broadbeach.
Victory for the Cats would put them up to second, level on points with Morningside (bye this weekend) but above the Panthers on percentage.
Labrador would reclaim fifth from Mt Gravatt with a win as the Vultures also have a bye this weekend.