Injuries Affect Flag Fancies

Picture: Lincoln Baker/Perth Now
Luke Shuey was quiet in round one against the Dockers. Image courtesy of perthnow.com.au/Lincoln Baker
Last Five Meetings

Round 23, 2012 – Hawthorn Hawks 95 d West Coast Eagles 70
Round 4, 2012 – West Coast Eagles 51 d Hawthorn Hawks 46
Round 4, 2011 – Hawthorn Hawks 72 d West Coast Eagles 65
Round 7, 2010 – West Coast Eagles 102 d Hawthorn Hawks 94
Round 13, 2009 – West Coast Eagles 107 d Hawthorn Hawks 87


Form

  Rd 1 
West Coast    L
Hawthorn  L


The two teams that were flag favourites before the season now clash in what should be a round two blockbuster, but thanks to opening round losses, injuries and the monster Carlton vs Collingwood clash at the MCG on the same afternoon, this match has now been given second billing. The last time these teams met in Perth, West Coast kicked 12 behinds without registering a goal to half-time, yet still managed to win in a thriller by five points . It was quite an extraordinary game against a Hawks team which averaged 122 points per game last season.

The Eagles are genuinely injury-ravaged at the moment. The broken arm Mark LeCras suffered in the derby loss to Fremantle was compounded by the loss of key defender Eric Mackenzie in the same match to a hamstring strain. Add those two to Daniel Kerr (knee), Nic Naitanui (groin), Mark Nicoski (hamstring), Matthew Rosa (thigh) and recruit Sharrod Wellingham (ankle), and the Eagles have plenty of star quality watching from the stands this weekend.

Hawthorn isn’t faring much better. Brian Lake was a late withdrawal from the loss to Geelong with a calf injury and he will miss a second week, while Matt Suckling and Brendan Whitecross are both long-term casualties due to knee reconstructions. The good news is that Luke Hodge has been named to return from knee surgery.


Key Men

(Eagles) Luke Shuey – Ryan Crowley and Luke Shuey finished with the same number of possessions in round one – 12 – but the master niggler absolutely smashed his younger Eagles opponent in the Western derby. With so many topliners out injured, there is a fair bit more pressure on the likes of Shuey and Andrew Gaff to pick up the slack, but both were unusually quiet against Freo. Shuey’s dash and accuracy by foot is a key for the Eagles if they want to make the most of a foot speed advantage over the Hawks.

(Hawks) Brad Sewell – Brad Sewell hasn’t received anywhere near the same attention as a number of his teammates, well, until he started dating racing identity Francesca Cumani, anyway. Suffice to say, though, this man is a beast, and only Sam Mitchell won more contested possessions at Hawthorn last year than Sewell. He was instrumental in the Hawks building a half-time lead over Geelong and finished the day with 33 touches in a losing side.


Prediction

The Eagles started well against Freo, but really struggled to contain their big-bodied midfielders in the second half, and with so much ball getting in to the Dockers’ forward 50, it was inevitable their Mosquito fleet of crumbers would eventually set the scoreboard ticking along in their favour. It gets no easier against Hawthorn’s hard-nuts. The Hawks aren’t getting any younger, though, and their fade-out against the Cats will see more questions asked of a team which is the third oldest in the competition by average age. The last three contests between these teams have been slugfests and with plenty on the line early in the season, a shootout appears unlikely. Eagles by 10 points

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