Sunday, August 16, 4.40pm AEST, Domain Stadium, watch on Fox Footy
Fremantle Dockers: First
West Coast Eagles: Second
Fremantle Dockers: 16-2-0
West Coast Eagles: 13-4-1
Last five games
Fremantle Dockers: LWWWW
West Coast Eagles: WWWDL
WHAT a fortnight it’s been for the second placed West Coast Eagles.
They failed in their first massive test of the season, falling to the third placed Hawthorn on the weekend, and now they cop ladder leader Fremantle ($1.55 with CrownBet.com.au) in a top of the table clash that will go a long way towards deciding if they can secure a home final.
The Eagles ($2.60 with WilliamHill.com.au) were dogged against the Hawks, but ultimately couldn’t find a way to to get the four points against a side that has done so much winning in the past seven years that it has become a way of life, going down 13.10 (88) to 11.8 (74).
It was a dose of reality for a side that has won 13 games in 2015, but has been on shaky ground over the past fortnight, after a draw to the lowly Gold Coast Suns.
Things looked bright for the Eagles after a five goal to two opening term that was pegged back to a six point lead at half time. They held a three point advantage at three quarter time, but you always felt the Hawks would come. And that’s exactly what they did, kicking into over drive to seal the 14 point win and leaving more questions than answers for an Eagles side that got four goals from spearhead Josh Kennedy and another superb performance from break out star Andrew Gaff, who had 35 disposals.
The usual suspects in Matt Priddis, 28, and Luke Schuey, 27, were prominent, but it fell away terribly from there, with only ruck man Scott Lycett managing to crack the 20 disposal mark.
Despite the loss, coach Adam Simpson said his side would go into the Western Derby with Freo full of confidence.
“We lost a game against the premiers,” Simpson calmed after the match.
“I think they had 18 premiership players from last year playing.
“To be right up there until half way through the last – I think we hit the front with 10 minutes to go.
“But we weren’t good enough.
“And Fremantle is going to be just as tough.”
It might just be tougher, after small forward Mark LeCras was rubbed out for a week, key defender Jeremy McGovern was injured and athletic ruck man Nic Natanui pulled out due to a personal issue.
LeCras copped a week for rough conduct after his bump on Hawks defender James Frawley.
He was the Eagles best player in the last derby, booting five goals.
McGovern, who has been plagued by injury in recent weeks, tweaked his hamstring in the last quarter against the Hawks and will be forced to sit out against Fremantle.
Eagles football manager Craig Vozzo said McGovern will miss at least two weeks.
“It was a bit disappointing that he didn’t get through the game with the hamstring on the weekend,” Vozzo said.
“The scan shows that it’s just the same type of injury, nothing worse than that, which means he’s probably going to be out for at least two weeks through the rehab phase.
“He’s keen to fast track things, but we’ll just take it one week at a time.”
And Nic Nat is in Fiji, following the death of his mother, with the funeral to be held on Friday.
“He won’t be available this week,” Simpson said.
“He’s travelling as well as he could be.
“The funeral arrangements are for Friday.
“So he’ll come back next week.
“Obviously it’s family first.
“It’s an emotional time and we’ll back away.”
While there’s plenty of turmoil at the Eagles, Fremantle has its own set of injury woes after spearhead Matthew Pavlich, tall defender Luke McPharlin and gun midfielder David Mundy pulled up sore following the Dockers’ relatively easy win over St Kilda, 15.6 (96) to 8.11 (59).
The Dockers kicked seven unanswered goals from seven individual goal kickers to blow the game open in the first quarter to effectively kill off the contest, as Fremantle saw off every Saints’ challenge.
Lachie Neale, who is having a massive year, was sensational in Nat Fyfe’s absence, snaring 36 disposals and Munday had 33, while Stephen Hill, 29, and Garrick Ibbotson, 28, also got amongst it.
Six Dockers booted two goals each in the cruisy 37 point victory.
Mundy and Pavlich both underwent scans on Monday, with coach Ross Lyon saying they’re in doubt for the Derby.
But a typically coy Lyon said he did not yet know what the nature of the injuries were.
“I don’t know yet myself,” Lyon said on Tuesday.
“They seem to be significant.
“If you go in for a scan, you’ve clearly got some doubt about you.
“We’ll have to work through the week.
“Hopefully they can recover.
“Hopefully they can train by the end of the week.”
Match winner: Fremantle Dockers ($1.55 with CrownBet.com.au)
Line: Fremantle Dockers – 10.5 ($1.91 with CrownBet.com.au)
It’s a shame both sides are set to miss some of their out and out best players for this one. It takes a bit of sheen off the top of the table clash. But you just feel that the Dockers have more depth to cover the likes of Pavlich and Mundy, should they miss. The Eagles are missing three of their top 10 in LeCras, Nic Nat and McGovern and that is a killer. We reckon the return of Fyfe will be enough to get the Dockers over the line. Watch out for him to have a big one as he tries to regain form and fitness ahead of the finals. The Dockers have beaten the Eagles in each of the past six derbies and we don’t think it’s going to change. We were hoping for an intriguing ruck battle with the athletic Nic Nat up against the towering Aaron Sandilands, but, with the former already ruled out, Sandilands and partner in crime Jon Griffin, should have a field day. We feel like the line is a bit skewed. If they had have given us 19 points, we might have looked at the Eagles holding that, but we think the Dockers should be able to get up by a couple of goals, even if they do lose a couple of those guns we mentioned. They have the depth to cover.
First goal scorer tips
Chris Mayne ($11 with sportsbet.com.au)
The curly haired one is a bit of an unsung hero for the Dockers. But he will have to embrace the lime light if Pavlich misses. He really becomes their best taller target, with the likes of Michael Walters feeding off him and that means he must stand up in the captain’s absence. Mayne has 15 career goals against the Eagles, his equal best return against any club, along with Adelaide, Melbourne and Port Adelaide, so we know he plays well in these derby games. He’s on a nice run of form too, kicking goals in each of his last five matches, to give him 10 from those performances. Was one of the six multiple goal kickers for the Dockers last week and, particularly with no Pavlich, he becomes a must consider for first goal, purely because he will be desirable target for the Fremantle midfield brigade.
Lachie Neale ($23 with sportsbet.com.au)
This kid is something special. Where do the Dockers keep finding them. Might have even gone past the likes of Barlow in the Freo midfield. He, Mundy and Fyfe form one of the most formidable midfield combinations in the competition, getting silver service from big Sandi. Yes, he will start in the midfield, but that’s never stopped us from tipping an on baller before. West Coast’s zonal marking sadly doesn’t tend to work against the best sides and we reckon Neale has the ability in the midfield to expose that by getting off the leash and getting forward to provide another goal kicking chance.
West Coast Eagles
Josh Kennedy ($7 with sportsbet.com.au)
Josh Kennedy is $1.01 to win the Coleman Medal with CrownBet.com.au. You know, that award that honours the leading goal kicker in the entire competition each year? Translation: This fella knows exactly where the big sticks are and he’s very adept at splitting them. Aside from the fact that he’s a man mountain who can mark the ball in the contest or speed out on the lead, Kennedy is also cat like on the ground, so he is always in the game. The likes of Priddis and Gaff love hitting up Kennedy. The guy kicked four goals last week to take his season tally to 62 and you just know he’s not going to go goal less. Let’s hope he can kick the first of the match and set our tip up in style.
Andrew Gaff ($26 with sportsbet.com.au)
We went with the spearhead Kennedy as out top pick for the first goal, so we’re looking a little left of centre and going with ball magnet Gaff at superb odds. Gaff’s not a huge goal kicker, because it’s hard to do that from the wing – he has only nine for the year and three of those came against Adelaide. But a guy with his pace and football nous should be able to recognise when to get forward and use his pace and skill to get on the board. Certainly not the most obvious pick, but gave has had the season of his life and we reckon he’s as good a chance as any other outsider to reinforce his efforts with the first goal of the match.
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