By Terry Wilson
Credit: BC Sleep Photography
Morningside v Western Magpies
At Jack Esplen Oval, 2pm
Morningside: Ins: Brad Hodge, Ed Mallan, Keidean Coleman. Outs: Kent Abey (achilles), Will Pendlebury (ankle), Tom Jeffrey (State U17s).
Western Magpies: Ins: Jack Goodall, Anthony Corrie, Jakob de Winter, Jon Macanawai. Outs: Aaron Highlands (suspended), Matt Davis (ill), Brenton Sunders (omit), Sam Parker (omit).
Last time they met: Morningside 11.9 (75) d Western Magpies 7.15 (57), R9 at McCarthy Homes Oval.
IT should not be a place for the faint-hearted when cross-Brisbane arch rivals Morningside and Western Magpies lock horns again at Jack Esplen Oval.
The last time these sides clashed they turned on a bottler, full of fierce physicality and pressure, and nothing is expected to change this time around.
Listening to coaches Steve Wildschut (Morningside) and Brydan Morgan (Magpies), they both expect nothing more than another stern test of character as the rivals go for a place in the finals, and in particular the double chance.
When the sides last met the Magpies had more scoring shots (22 to 20) but finished on the wrong end of a 75-57 loss at McCarthy Homes Oval.
“We were fortunate because it could have gone either way,” Wildschut told aflq.com.au.
“I will say it was the most brutal game we’ve been involved in. Not malice-wise, just sheer physical contest after physical contest.”
Does the Panther mentor believe this weekend’s clash will run along the same lines with neither side backward in coming forward?
“I would think so,” was the blunt response.
Feelings in the Western Magpies camp are similar, everybody there is expecting another ferocious derby.
The Magpies believe their midfield is as solid as any in the competition when it comes to the contests and this is an area where the match will be won or lost.
“I think both midfields are very similar,” Morgan said.
“Our midfield is not so dynamic but leads itself to tight, contested footy.
“I look back to the last time we played Morningside and I thought it was one of the best games of the season.
“It was high on intensity and I think this one could be another contender for the game of the year given what’s at stake for both sides.
“Our blokes under no illusions about what is up for grabs.”
A win for Morningside would have them move ahead of Mt Gravatt (who have the bye this week) and into third spot.
Western Magpies are sixth, a win behind Surfers Paradise, so should the Magpies win, and Surfers lose then the Magpies would go to fifth on percentage at a minimum.
At selection time Morningside elected not to risk veteran Kent Abey (achilles) and midfielder Nathan Kinch although Wildschiut said both would be playing if it was a final this weekend.
“This has been an ongoing issue for Kent that he has been managing for a few years,” Wildschut said.
Aspley (NEAFL) listed Ed Mallan is available this time while the Panthers have elected to blood youngster Keidean Coleman in such a big match.
The Magpies regain some handy strike power in forwards Anthony Corrie and Jakob de Winter among four changes to the side that beat Labrador last round.
But they have lost a couple of handy ones in Matt Davis (ill) and the suspended Aaron Highlands.Rd17 - Panthers v Magpies_
Palm Beach Currumbin v Surfers Paradise
At Salk Oval, 2pm
Palm Beach Currumbin: Ins: Josh Woolley, Callum McBurnie, Jimmy Holland, Nathan Robertson, Brad McDonald, Jed Turner, Brenton Payne, Josh Lys. Outs: Jon Croad (suspended), Ashton Crossley (State U17s), Jackson Emblem (back), Tom Thynne (groin), Tyler Cornish (managed), Corey Beaman (Suns NEAFL), Corey Joyce (State U17s), Riley Mayne (groin).
Surfers Paradise: Ins: Dan Green, Jack Taylor, Hunter Pierce, Nick O’Hare. Outs: Connor Manning (ankle), Tom Allard (Southport), Miles Jewell (omit), Jalen Curtis (omit).
Last time they met: Palm Beach Currumbin 8.9 (57) d Surfers Paradise 6.10 (46), R8 at Sir Bruce Small Park.
SURFERS Paradise have to smash a 12-year hoodoo as they continue to walk the QAFL finals tightrope.
Not since 2006 have the Demons beaten Palm Beach Currumbin in the Lions’ den that is Salk Oval.
That run spans 12 games at the Currumbin Creek-side venue and overall since then the Dees have won only two of 25 clashes against the Lions.
Those victories were in more recent times, with successes in both 2015 and 2016, both at Sir Bruce Small Park.
The last time Surfers beat PBC at Salk Oval was under coach John Millane, younger brother of the late Collingwood premiership star and captain Darren Millane.
And, in a huge coincidence, a member of the Surfers Paradise team that day, on April 30, 2006, was none other than current PBC coach Chad Owens.
It is certainly a walk down memory lane for Owens, although there is plenty attached to this Gold Coast derby, much more so than any other derby in recent times.
PBC are heading for the minor premiership, Surfers are fifth in the race to the finals and are just hanging in there as they enter hugely crucial three remaining matches when they face PBC, Mt Gravatt and Western Magpies.
“There are a lot of ifs coming up,” Surfers coach Brad Moore said.
“We’ll just focus on this week and Palm Beach and worry about the rest after that. It’s a great challenge.”
Moore was intrigued by the drought of Surfers in games at Salk Oval but preferred a light-hearted view of the statistics.
“How about we go with the one in a row (loss) for me as coach at Surfers and we’ll leave the others alone,” he said.
“Chad Owens playing for Surfers the last time we won there? Now that’s the better stat.”
Just at a stage where injuries may have hurt the defending premiers, PBC have again managed to cover for the loss of a number of key players.
Jon Croad is suspended, and the trio of Jackson Emblem, Tyler Cornish and Tom Thynne are out injured this week.
But the Lions, seemingly blessed, have Southport NEAFL pair Jed Turner and Brenton Payne available on top of the returns of Josh Woolley, 2017 grand final star Brad McDonald, Jimmy Holland and Callum McBurnie, among others in a total of eight changes made coming off the bye.
Surfers regain their forward mainstay Dan Green as one of four changes to the side that scraped in against Wilston Grange last start.
Forward Nick O’Hare will make his seniors debut for the Demons.Rd17 - Lions v Demons
Wilston Grange v Broadbeach
At Bendigo Bank Oval, 2pm
Wilston Grange: Ins: Mac Penny, Jordan McDonald, Angus O’Brien, Jake Ralston, Mitch Heaslip. Outs: Myles Lawler (ankle), Nate Dennis (knee), Harry Milford (concussion), Campbell Luers (finger), Henry Leong (unavailable).
Broadbeach: Ins: Nick Burton, Dale Eames. Outs: Jai Lyons (Redland), Connor Harris (colts).
Last time they met: Broadbeach 22.11 (143) d Wilston Grange 9.9 (63), R8 at Subaru Oval.
BIG Jim McMahon will join an elite group to have played 200 seniors games for Wilston Grange when he runs out against Broadbeach at Bendigo Bank Oval.
Now 31, the towering ruckman has stuck loyal with a club that has been through some tough times yet one that remains very special to his heart.
“You know you’re on a winner at a club like Wilston Grange,” McMahon said when asked why he has never looked at playing for any other club.
“It’s a good family club and is what community footy is all about – the people, the relationships and having fun.
“I never really considered leaving.”
At 202cm and weighing 102kg, McMahon is a big unit, always a tough opponent for any ruckman in the leagues he has played in.
McMahon’s debut for the Gorillas came as a 17-year-old against Maroochy/Northshore – and the team won.
That was one memory of the occasion. He has two more.
“No one’s going to believe it, but my first touch was a mark inside 50 and I went back and slotted the goal,” he said.
“Later in the game I got (accidentally) on top of someone’s shoulders and took a hanger.
“Now I have to say that has not happened since.”
McMahon says he has a few more seasons left in him and feels that 250 games for the red, white and blues would be a good target.
McMahon’s milestone comes against finals-bound Broadbeach who are hot on the scent of a second-place finish and the finals double chance that goes with that finish.
Cats coach Brett Andrews desperately wants to stitch up second spot, which carries with it the prize of a home ground advantage for the qualifying final.
So, the Cats have plenty to play for on Saturday, although Andrews is looking for a lift in sharpness after a tough campaign.
“The Grange were pretty good last week and could have beaten Surfers – and they’re playing for a bit of respectability I suppose,” Andrews said of his weekend opponents.
“We had a bit of a lull last week (they beat Sandgate) but the players have been pretty sharp on the track this week.”
A key for Broadbeach is forward Matt Fowler, who heads the QAFL goalkicking list after 11 against Sandgate.
The last time Broadbeach played the Grange, Fowler kicked eight majors and again represents danger for the home side.Rd17 - Gorillas v Cats
Sandgate v Labrador
At Lemke Road Oval, 2pm
Ins: Josh Preval, Lachlan Harris, Ben McElligott. Outs: Brandon Batchelor (Aspley), Casey Barber (shoulder), Trent Lowrie (omit).
Labrador: Ins: Tom Thorsen, Chris Talbot, Alex Ford, Riley Watters, Kye Newson, Zac Browne, Jarrod Mills. Outs: Ryan Gilmore (NEAFL), Dyson Budarick (hamstring), Connor Portelli (academy), Tui Lowah (academy), Lachlan McDonald (academy), Kane Haua (academy), Jaicob Kenny (Southport).
Last time they met: Labrador 15.16 (106) d Sandgate 4.9 (33), R8 at Cooke-Murphy Oval.
LABRADOR people know the club’s future foundations lie in developing young talent but are wondering about the fairness of a system that has denied them access to a group of rookies this weekend.
The Tigers are playing bottom side Sandgate at Lemke Road and had to dig deep to come up with two sides for the trek up the M1.
This has been brought about by NEAFL call-ups for several teenagers by the Gold Coast SUNS as well as the state under-17 commitments for others.
“We have 13 academy kids and only one is available this weekend,” coach Aaron Shattock said.
“It’s all good (to have so many rising stars) but the reality is we can’t pick them.”
Labrador have eight players going to the Suns and have defender Jaicob Kenny required by Southport in the NEAFL.
This is on top of a huge injury list that has been behind the downfall of a club that won back-to-back flags in 2015/16 and a grand final loss in 2017.
“We’ve scraped the barrel dry, so what’s under the barrel?” Shattock asked.
“We’re lucky we don’t have an Under-18s game this week because we have a lot of colts playing in our reserves.”
The last time Labrador won a game was against Sandgate at Cooke-Murphy Oval in the eighth round.
For the road trip, they have included two first-gamers in Riley Watters and Kye Newsom among seven changes.
Some experience is back via Tom Thorsen and Chris Talbot.
Sandgate have three changes with NEAFL-tied pair Josh Preval and Lachlan Harris joining Ben McElligott as the fresh faces this week.
“It’s probably the most experienced side we’ve put out for a few weeks there’s a bit of leadership there,” Sandgate coach Jarad Marsh said.
“I think it’s still about improving every week, that remains the issue.
“I thought against Broadbeach we were pretty good for three quarters. Now we have to focus on when the opposition has a bit of momentum to stop that momentum and control the game ourselves.”Rd17 - Hawks v Tigers