Derby Clash Rocked By Injuries

Picture: Getty Images/adelaidenow.com.au
Fremantle veteran Matthew Pavlich is the man the Eagles need to stop. Image courtesy of adelaidenow.com.au/Getty Images
Last 5 Matches

Round 19, 2012 – Fremantle Dockers 113 d West Coast Eagles 48
Round 9, 2012 – West Coast Eagles 84 d Fremantle Dockers 36
Round 18, 2011 – West Coast Eagles 65 d Fremantle Dockers 64
Round 8, 2011 – West Coast Eagles 96 d Fremantle Dockers 63
Round 18, 2010 – Fremantle Dockers 160 d West Coast Eagles 85


Both of these teams have their injury worries coming in to the opening round, particular in their respective ruck divisions. When Aaron Sandilands came back in to Fremantle’s line-up late last season, it was music to the ears of the likes of David Mundy , Michael Barlow and Nat Fyfe who had access to the best tap ruckman in the competition. He suffered a hamstring injury in the first round of the NAB Cup and aggravated that this week, so Freo may be without his 211cm frame for a couple of months. One of his back-ups, Zac Clarke, snapped his plantaris tendon at training this week and will miss the match, leaving Jonathon Griffin and Keplar Bradley to shoulder the ruck duties.

West Coast is without All-Australian ruckman Nic Naitanui as he continues to recover from off-season groin surgery. Scott Lycett, who has just three games to his name, comes in for the Flying Fijian. Veteran Andrew Embley has shaken off a minor hamstring strain to take his place in the side while St Kilda recruit Jamie Cripps has been named on the bench to make his Eagles debut. Injury-plagued forward Mark Nicoski will miss even more football after being placed on the long-term injury list with a hamstring problem.

Key Men
(Fremantle) Matthew Pavlich averaged almost four goals per game after coach Ross Lyon parked him in the forward line in the second half of last season. He booted eight goals in the Dockers’ thumping 65-point win late in 2012 and ripped talented Eagles defender Eric Mackenzie to shreds. If John Worsfold doesn’t get that match-up right this time then Freo’s main man could turn the game on its head.

(West Coast) With his partner-in-crime Nic Naitanui absent, the Eagles will rely on Dean Cox to give them first use of the ball on Saturday night, something he has been doing for what seems like forever at Subiaco. Aaron Sandilands missed Freo’s round 19 win last season, and even though the Eagles duo dominated the hit outs, the Dockers managed to keep them quiet around the ground. But a year earlier when Sandilands was missing, Cox put in a virtuoso best-on-ground performances to lift West Coast to a heartstopping one-point win.

Prediction

Neither team set the world on fire in the NAB Cup, but few top eight teams from 2012 appeared to take must interest in the pre-season competition. Despite the fierceness of the derby clash over the years, there have been plenty of fizzers in recent times. Just one of the last six has finished with a margin of under 30 points. The Eagles have a good record in opening round clashes with Freo winning all three of those contests. Having Mark LeCras and Josh Kennedy in the forward 50 will help take some of the load off young gun Jack Darling, providing they’re not too rusty after missing large chunks of last season with injury. West Coast by 18.

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