WEST COAST v COLLINGWOOD
OPTUS STADIUM SAT 0810 PM
WEST COAST (LWWLW)
It will be a full strength Eagles forward line including Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling, Mark LeCras, Jamie Cripps, Willie Rioli and Liam Ryan who will line up against the Magpies on Saturday night. The combination has never played a match together because of injury and they will certainly test a stingy Collingwood defence that has not given up more than 75 points in their past 4 matches.
A quick start is undoubtedly the key for the Magpies in this match. In their three losses at home this season, West Coast have been down at quarter time. The easiest way to take the vocal Eagles crowd out of the game is for Collingwood to kick a couple of early goals.
Unfortunately the Magpies haven’t been quick out of the blocks recently. In their last three wins they have been behind at quarter time against both the Dockers (by 12 points) and Lions (by 13 points) and just 1 point ahead of the Power at the first break. It is going to be tough for the Magpies to win if the Eagles can generate momentum from an early lead in front of their home crowd.
STATS THAT MATTER
- Optus Stadium is certainly not a fortress for the Eagles and after their recent win against the Dockers, the Magpies will travel West with plenty of confidence. West Coast have played 12 matches at home this season for 9 wins and 3 losses, the most recent loss against the Demons in round 22.
- The Eagles and Magpies are ranked 2nd and 3rd respectively in the AFL for hitouts per game. It promises to be an intriguing battle between Scott Lycett/Nathan Vardy and Brodie Grundy, particularly as the Magpies have used that first use of the ball to dominate the clearances this season.
- Whilst Josh Kennedy has had an injury interrupted season playing just 11 matches, the Eagles have won 10 of those matches. The star forward has not gone goalless in 2018.
- Luke Shuey helped the Eagles bounce back from their loss to the Demons with 29 disposals, 6 inside 50s and 10 clearances against the Lions. If the Eagles can get the ball quickly out of the midfield through players like Shuey and Sheed they have plenty of attacking power to target up forward.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The main concern for the Wolf is the depth of the Eagles forward line which punished the Magpies at the MCG the last time these teams played. Rioli, Darling and Kennedy had 3 goals each whilst LeCras had 2 in the 35 point win. It is those forward line options which will spread the Collingwood defence very thin.
West Coast were also very efficient with their ball usage and dominated both the tackles 63-42 and scoring shots in that game. The Magpies on the other hand were wasteful with the ball with 80 clangers to just 53 for the Eagles. Both teams will be well rested with the travel over to Perth therefore not as big of an issue. The weather also shouldn’t play a factor with a top of 19 degrees not enough to make the heat an issue coming from the Melbourne winter.
The line is set at just 9.5 points and the Wolf is comfortable taking the Eagles at -9.5 to add some value.
HOW IT’S SHAPING UP
Eagles by 22 points
BEST BETS: West Coast Eagles 1-39 ($2.10), West Coast Eagles -9.5 ($1.94), Most Disposals Crisp v Masten – Masten ($1.77)