By Terry Wilson
Palm Beach Currumbin v Broadbeach
At Salk Oval, 2pm Saturday
Palm Beach Currumbin:
Ins: Jack Anthony, Tom Thynne, Cory Beaman, Dale Neuhaus, Riley Mayne, Corey Joyce.
Outs: Jarryd Douglas (concussion), Callum McBurnie (concussion), Jimmy Holland (hamstring), Josh Wooley (groin), Brock Askey (hamstring), Mitch Johnson (Southport).
Ins: Nick Burton, Darcy Irwin, Shawn Watson.
Outs: Luke McGuane (arm), Josh Searl (hamstring), Harrison Kerr (unavailable).
Last time they met: Palm Beach Currumbin 11.17 (83) d Broadbeach 8.14 (62), R6 at Subaru Oval.
PALM Beach Currumbin may be erring on the side of caution by making six changes to a winning side for a big Gold Coast derby against Broadbeach at Salk Oval.
The defending champions had two automatic changes forced on them after concussions sustained by Jarryd Douglas and Callum McBurnie last weekend.
The three other players – Jimmy Holland (hamstring), Josh Woolley (groin) and Brock Askey (hamstring) – will all miss in the lead up to the finals.
The sixth change is the return to Southport of forward Mitch Johnson.
Even though the Lions regain some top performers, notably forward Jack Anthony, on-baller Tom Thynne and defender Dale Neuhaus, there is a look of vulnerability about the PBC side that the Cats are wanting to exploit.
Broadbeach coach Brett Andrews would not say as much, but there is a view on the Coast that if the Cats cannot beat this PBC side, they never will, not this year at least.
“They’ve lost five good footballers,” Andrews said.
“But unfortunately, they always have a few out yet they still get us. No matter who they have out they have plenty of depth and they’re always hard to beat at home.”
Salk Oval was the venue where Broadbeach did everything but win last year’s second semi-final, leading until the shadows of full-time before poor discipline lost them the game.
Now the Cats still have a sniff of the minor premiership but, sitting eight points adrift of the Lions, they simply have to win on Saturday to give them a shot at the top rung.
“Obviously we’d love top spot, but we have to guarantee second for the finals,” Andrews said.
“If we get over this week that’d all but assure us of that. We’d get a nice little buffer over the others and we could sit back and let them belt each other.”
The Cats have three changes to the side that scraped home against Surfers Paradise last weekend – the same margin as PBC beat the Western Magpies at the same time.
Out of the line-up this weekend are Luke McGuane (arm), Josh Searl (hamstring) and Redland-listed Harrison Kerr.
But the Cats get flanker Nick Burton, young ruckman Shawn Watson back and have elevated former Victoria Country player, Darcy Irwin, for his seniors debut after two good reserves matches in his return from injury.
PBC continued their run of handing seniors debuts to local products by naming Corey Joyce for his maiden QAFL game.
A Coolangatta junior, Corey is a younger brother of Gold Coast Suns defender Jesse Joyce.Rd15 - Lions v Cats
Western Magpies v Wilston Grange
At McCarthy Homes Oval, 2pm Saturday
Ins: Brady Allan, Sam Copland, Doug Lawrence.
Outs: Anthony Corrie (suspended), Brenton Saunders (omit), Brodie Easton (omit).
Ins: Jack James.
Outs: Hamish Warren (broken leg).
Last time they met: Western Magpies 15.21 (111) d Wilston Grange 7.5 (47), R7 at Bendigo Bank Oval.
THE Western Magpies continue to walk a finals tightrope and desperately need to see off Wilston Grange at Bendigo Bank Oval on Saturday.
It has come to a stage where the Magpies basically have to win every one of their five remaining games to ensure a place in the QAFL top five for the play-offs.
The Magpies are currently sixth, a win behind fifth-placed Surfers Paradise but, of all the six clubs fighting for the top five, are the only side who do not have a bye coming up.
And it has been pointed out that the Magpies have a reasonably favourable draw with fixtures against lower sides Wilston Grange, Labrador and Sandgate coming up.
They also have to face Morningside and Surfers Paradise away.
“Internally we know we can win five from five and get into the finals, maybe even in third spot,” coach Brydan Morgan said.
“There are plenty of twist and turns to come.”
After losing narrowly to premiers Palm Beach Currumbin last weekend, the Magpies have three changes. They regain NEAFL pair Sam Copland (Redland) and Doug Lawrence (Aspley) ad regain Brady Allan.
Among the losses is former Brisbane Lions star Anthony Corrie, who is serving a suspension.
The availability of Copland and Lawrence gives the Magpies added firepower up forward (Copland) and in defence (Lawrence).
Wilston Grange are still scratching their heads over the loss of Hamish Warren, who sustained a broken leg last weekend against Morningside at Esplen Oval.
It was at the same venue a year ago that Warren copped a broken collarbone.
The Gorillas brought in Jack James for Warren in their only change this week.
Being well out of finals contention, the only thing remaining for the Gorillas is to build up their win-loss record.
“We go in thinking we can win,” coach Nathan Clarke said.
“It’d be nice to have an away win. We’ve put the call out to the players to get an elusive win away from home.
“And we know the Magpies have to win this one.”Rd15 - Magpies v Gorillas
Sandgate v Mt Gravatt
At Lemke Road Oval, 2pm Saturday
Ins: Ben Affleck, Brendan Batchelor.
Outs: Tristan Juffs-King (shoulder), Jared Bond (omit).
Ins: Daniel Morgan, Braydon O’Dea.
Outs: Jack Coughlan (Aspley NEAFL), Brendan Telford (hamstring).
Last time they met: Mt Gravatt 14.13 (97) d Sandgate 10.6 (66), R7 at Dittmer Park.
SANDGATE coach Jarad Marsh is pinning his faith on natural improvement to work in the favour of the Hawks when they host Mt Gravatt at Lemke Road Oval.
Marsh bases his optimism on the effort of the young Hawks when they last took on Mt Gravatt, in the seventh round at Dittmer Park when the home side scored by 33 points.
But that day Sandgate led at half-time before failing to kick a goal in the third term and handing the game to the Vultures.
“We matched up with them fairly well the last time we played Mt Gravatt,” Marsh said.
“We were in front at half-time and we want to get some more small wins like that – get a winning half this week, then turn that into three quarters then four quarters.”
The Hawks will bring two changes with them across the city with Brendan Batchelor and Ben Allen into the side to replace Tristan Juffs-King and Jaren Bond.
Mt Gravatt also have just the two changes. The Vultures have lost Jack Coughlan to Aspley in the NEAFL and Brendan Telford misses with a hamstring injury.
Sitting third on the ladder and needing a couple more wins to ensure finals action, the Vultures simply cannot afford a slip-up here.
As coach Daniel Webster pointed out, so close is the race for finals places three to five, anything can happen.
“Ourselves, Morningside, Surfers Paradise and the Western Magpies can finish anywhere between third and sixth,” Webster said.
“Which makes it imperative to beat the Hawks this weekend.”
Mt Gravatt have handed a seniors debut to Braydon O’Dea, a midfield type.Rd15 - Magpies v Gorillas