WHERE AND WHEN: Patersons Stadium, Sunday May 27, 2.40pm
LAST TIME: West Coast 8.17 (65) d Fremantle 9.10 (64), round 18, 2011 at Patersons Stadium
With a legitimate chance for a top four berth for both of these clubs on the line today, the Western Derby is set to hold more importance than what it has for several years.
Not that the games in years prior have been lacklustre; in fact they have been some of the most entertaining the AFL has produced. Both sides relish the contest against their cross town rivals, and the intensity will always lift a few notches when they meet.
Today, this lift should result in a game resembling September footy, which should see this become a classic. West Coast’s midfield pressure and defensive press is first class and as St Kilda found out last week, it can decimate sides in a short space of time if not countered correctly.
Over possessing the ball is generally the worst course of action against a press, as mistakes tend to become inevitable. West Coast are very good at capitalising on turnovers quickly.
Fremantle will push numbers behind the ball and will try to force contested ball situations across the ground. When in possession, they will sprint forward in groups and attempt to score on the counter attack as their positioning across the ground will often leave their forward line open for star Matthew Pavlich to take advantage of.
It’s an interesting contrast as both game plans have the potential to play precisely into the hands of their opponents if implemented incorrectly, but with both teams looking to secure a double chance come finals, you can expect both sides to be playing their best football.
Matthew Pavlich vs Darren Glass
The two captains of their respective clubs have been magnificent over their years, if a little unrecognised by fans and media across the country. Nevertheless, they are both vital pieces in their teams structure and make it possible for others to flourish.
They take the hardest jobs on the field, and they have rarely failed.
Hopefully they match up on one another today, as it would be a matchup full of highlights.
Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui vs Aaron Sandilands, Jon Griffin and Zac Clarke
The West Australian clubs are the envy of all sides when in comes to the big men, as they seem to have no problems finding elite talent for their midfielders to work with.
Sandilands is arguably the most damaging and important ruckman in the competition, and it comes from more than simply his stoppage work. He provides Fremantle a get out clause from their defensive 50, as when the ball is above the pack, there is simply no way to stop Sandilands from getting hands on the ball first.
Naitanui is possibly the best pure tap ruckman in the game today and usually gives the Eagles an advantage in the clearances, whilst Griffin and Clarke have both been picked in order to stretch the Eagles defence.
Whoever gets on top in the battle of the giants will likely find themselves on top.
Fremantle were smashed last week and that will give them even more reason to throw everything into this contest. West Coast have been in great form all year despite their injury list, and look to be playing slightly better footy at this point.
West Coast by 14
West Coast Eagles
B: Sam Butler, Darren Glass, Will Schofield
HB: Beau Waters, Eric Mackenzie, Shannon Hurn
C: Matthew Rosa, Matthew Priddis, Andrew Gaff
HF: Chris Masten, Jack Darling, Luke Shuey
F: Dean Cox, Quinten Lynch, Josh Hill
Foll: Nic Naitanui, Scott Selwood, Daniel Kerr
IC: Adam Selwood, Patrick McGinnity, Brad Sheppard, Jacob Brennan
Emg: Koby Stevens, Ashton Hams, Scott Lycett
In: Matthew Priddis
Out: Koby Stevens
B: Paul Duffield, Zac Dawson, Greg Broughton
HB: Michael Johnson, Luke McPharlin, Tendai Mzungu
C: Michael Barlow, Ryan Crowley, Stephen Hill
HF: Matthew de Boer, Christopher Mayne, Lachie Neale
F: Hayden Ballantyne, Matthew Pavlich, Zachary Clarke
Foll: Aaron Sandilands, David Mundy, Clancee Pearce
IC: Jay van Berlo, Jesse Crichton, Alex Silvagni, Jonathon Griffin
Emg: Nick Suban, Hayden Crozier, Lee Spurr
In: Jesse Crichton, Alex Silvagni, Jonathon Griffin
Out: Garrick Ibbotson, Dylan Roberton, Lee Spurr