Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling are the X-factors in the Eagles forward line. West Coast have their strongest combination of attacking players this season for the finals, a combination that wasn’t available against the Demons. With Kennedy missing from the round 22 match against Melbourne and Darling knocked out in the first 10 minutes, the Eagles were down two players that had kicked a combined 80 goals between them this season.
Not only were West Coast missing two big targets in the forward line but they were down a rotation against a Melbourne side full of energy and run. To compensate for Darling seeing stars, McGovern was moved forward which didn’t pay off on the scoreboard and moved one of their key defenders out of position.
Above all the Eagles must stop the Demons from getting a quick start.
What the Eagles need to do to win this game

  • Lead at quarter time
  • Reduce the impact of Max Gawn
  • Josh Kennedy needs to kick straight
  • Win the contested ball


The Demons were under incredible pressure the last time they travelled across to Perth to face the Eagles. Without a win against a finals bound side, there was the general belief that Melbourne needed to knock off one of the top teams before they could even think about unlocking their premiership window.
The Demons made a quick start to the game and jumped out to a 20-0 lead, taking a 10 point advantage into quarter time. It was clear they had come to play. One of the keys for Melbourne was their ability to get the ball out of the centre, winning the clearances 29-43.
‘Kicking a winning score’ seems so obvious but the Wolf knows that if the Demons are going to win this match they are going to have to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Melbourne are one of only two teams to score 100+ points against the Eagles this season and ranked 1st in the AFL for points per game.
What the Demons need to do to win this game

  • Strong start to take the crowd out of the game.
  • Dominate the clearances

  • Tom McDonald was superb against the Hawks, presenting a strong marking target and collecting 10 marks and 4 goals. The Eagles defence poses a unique challenge for the Demons forwards according to McDonald.
Players like Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barrass draw their opposing forward to play on them instead of the other way around. This is because they threaten to turn the ball over and transition the ball out of their defence into a quick counter attack. That threat is one of the Eagles biggest strengths because it puts the forward in two minds and can draw them away from their normal attacking instincts.
  • Jack Viney had seven inside 50s and eight clearances against the Hawks last week. With the battle for the contested ball and clearances crucial to a Demons win, the young midfielder has a big role to play.
Both teams are approaching this match from two completely angles. The Demons are riding a wave of emotion; they have won two tough finals and two important home and away season over the last 5 weeks.
The Eagles on the other hand will be fully recovered, have a strong home advantage and will be strengthened by Kennedy and Darling lining up together in the forward line. The absence of those two players cannot be underestimated from the Demon’s round 22 win.
The Wolf thinks that the Eagles will be too strong at home.
Eagles by 21 points
BEST BETS: West Coast 1-39 ($2.30), Total points over 171.5 ($1.88)

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