Eagles Enter Derby Shorthanded

Image courtesy of foxsports.com.au/Daniel Wilkins/News Ltd
Beau Waters is one of a few Eagles big guns out with injury. Image courtesy foxsports.com.au/Daniel Wilkins/News Ltd
Last 5 Meetings

Round 1, 2013 – Fremantle 108 d West Coast 80 at Patersons Stadium
Round 19, 2012 – Fremantle 113 d West Coast 48 at Patersons Stadium
Round 9, 2012 – West Coast 84 d Fremantle 36 at Patersons Stadium
Round 18, 2011 – West Coast 65 d Fremantle 64 at Patersons Stadium
Round 8, 2011 – West Coast 96 d Fremantle 63 at Patersons Stadium


Form

  Rd 11    Rd 12    Rd 13    Rd 14    Rd 15 
West Coast

W

-

L

L

W

Fremantle

-

W

W

L

W


West Coast has made life tough for itself in the second half of the season, thanks to a poor start, but last week’s gritty six-point win over Adelaide showed this team is desperate to play finals footy. It should have come as a surprise, though; this season the Eagles have disposed of every team they’ve played which is currently outside the top eight, apart from Carlton in round four. In contrast, John Worsfold’s team is still yet to topple a team in position to play in September.

Injuries, as they have all season, aren’t helping matters, either. Injury-prone defender Beau Waters is out this week with a knee problem, while there is still no sign of gun midfielders Luke Shuey and Daniel Kerr.

No such problem for Fremantle which won its eighth game in ten starts last weekend with an easy 30-point win over St Kilda. The Dockers also welcomed back stars Matthew Pavlich and Aaron Sandilands. Luke McPharlin’s calf injury is a concern; taking in to account the Essendon match earlier this year when he was knocked out in the early exchanges, the Dockers have lost four of their last five matches without their veteran fullback.


Key Men

(Eagles) Josh Kennedy – There is one area West Coast has a definite advantage in this game, and that is the match-up between their talls in the forward line and Fremantle’s now undersized defence. Josh Kennedy is having a cracking season with 45 goals in 13 games, and he kicked four last week against Adelaide, including the game-winner off his non-dominant left-foot in the dying stages. With Jack Darling and a floating Dean Cox helping out, the Dockers could find themselves without enough key defenders.

(Dockers) Hayden Ballantyne – If there are two Dockers opposition teams and fans love to hate, it’s tagger Ryan Crowley and small forward Hayden Ballantyne . The latter has earned the ire of plenty over the years with his banter and theatrics, but as he showed last week against the Saints with a five-goal haul, he’s a vital member of the Dockers’ forward line. He averages almost two goals per game in Western Derbies, and if the goalsneak cuts loose on Sunday he has the potential to break the game wide open.


Prediction

Fremantle has just dominated this derby recently winning 11 of the past 15. The Dockers’ defence has been impregnable at times, but without the key, Luke McPharlin, all of a sudden Freo looks vulnerable. In saying that, teams simply struggle to get forward entries against this team, so his absence may not be as keenly felt as it once was. Replacement Alex Silvagni held James Podsiadly goalless in the Elimination Final last season when McPharlin was out; he’s no Steve Silvagni, but he can do a job. The Eagles still can’t get their best team on the park, and until they do, they probably won’t be challenging their near neighbours. West Coast hasn’t cracked the 100-point mark in the past 12 derbies, and the way the Dockers are going, don’t expect them to do so this weekend. Fremantle by 19 points .

Click here to bet on AFL Round 16 matches