WHERE AND WHEN: Patersons Stadium, Saturday June 30, 2.40pm
LAST TIME: West Coast 13.7 (86) d Gold Coast 10.7 (67), round 11, 2011, at Patersons Stadium
The West Coast Eagles face an entirely different beast after last weekend’s top of the table clash with Collingwood, coming up against a bottom of the ladder Gold Coast at Patersons Stadium on Saturday. The Eagles ran the Magpies agonisingly close but couldn’t get the four points in Melbourne.
They head back home while the young Suns take one of the longest trips in footy to Perth to face a daunting task. The Suns are yet to win a match this season and with a list decimated by injury and facing the dreaded sophmore blues they’ve merely had some outstanding individual performances by the likes of Gary Ablett and Harley Bennell to tide them over.
On paper, the signs aren’t all bad for the Suns. They pushed the Eagles to within 19 points last year in Perth and are coming off a bye, nearly claiming their first victory in round 12 with an agonising seven point loss to North Melbourne. But even the most bouyant of Gold Coast supporters and sympathisers know that running the red hot Eagles close will be a big ask from a young side missing a lot of important cattle.
West Coast have come under scrutiny this year, first for ‘ducking’ allegations towards a tactic used to draw high tackles, and last weekend umpiring head Jeff Gieschen admits the umpires missed several throws committed by the Eagles against Collingwood. It will be interesting to see how the umpiring decisions play out.
West Coast: The Eagles loss to Collingwood last weekend compounded with Hawthorn’s victory on Friday leaves the Eagles out of the top 4 for the first time this season. With only a game separating the top five sides on the ladder currently percentage is crucial. This is their only fixture against the Suns this year and a big win will go a long way to firming up a spot in the Top Four.
The Eagles have only made one change, with Tom Swift being given the week off after a couple of weeks in the green vest. Debutant Murray Newman (taken with the Eagles first pick, 23, in last years draft) will take his place. Newman is a speedy inside midfielder, but will most likely play in the forward line for the Eagles as he gains experience.
Gold Coast: Although the Eagles have their fair share of injuries, they have the experience to cover many of their losses. The Suns don’t have that luxury and it seems to be looking worse week by week. They lose another old head in Michael Rischitelli to injury this weekend, but at least gain Jarrod Harbrow back to add some rebound to the half-back line.
Along with Rischitelli, the other three outs for the Suns (Luke Russell, Rory Thompson and Seb Tape) are all struck with injuries too. Along with Harbrow, they bring in big key-forward Charlie Dixon along with Matt Shaw and Steven May.
Beau Waters – The Eagles’ Vice Captain is well known for his courage and aggression in all aspects of the game and has been a talking point for the last few rounds. He racks up disposals but also sets a huge example to his team-mates of what he believes is required for success. Expect him to go hard into any contests in the backline and load up on rebound 50s while doing it.
Jack Darling – The Eagles’ leading goalkicker this season has more responsibility on his shoulders than ever in his young career with many first choice Eagles forwards not playing. Darling and Quentin Lynch combined relatively well against Collingwood, but Darling really needs to step up and kick a bag to give himself confidence that he can be that kind of key-forward. A match against an inexperienced Suns backline is as good an opportunity as any.
Karmichael Hunt – With many hardened and skillful bodies out for the Suns, the rugby converts role becomes more important than ever. Hunt has improved dramatically this season, not just in possessions, but in the sheer amount of team things he does. If he can continue to block, tackle and go ferociously at the ball it will allow players like Ablett and Bennell to get free and open more often. West Coast aren’t one to shy away from the contest – Hunt needs to give them a reason to.
Sam Day – The Suns have been crying out for a powerful forward presence ever since their inception. Although their ruckman are usually good for a goal or two a game between them, they cannot continue to rely on their midfield so much. Over half their goals against the Kangaroos came from the midfield and with their bevy of smaller forwards, they need a big target to bring it to ground.
Day is a number three draft pick and was always expected to need time to come on, but the Suns need his presence sooner rather than later. If he can have another game like he did against Port Adelaide in Round Nine (three goals, six marks, five hit-outs pinch hitting in the ruck) then coach Guy McKenna will leave the ground a lot happier.
The Suns aren’t a realistic chance in Perth no matter how you swing it. Expect them to come out firing on all cylinders, but to then peter out in the second half. If they give the Eagles a scare and keep improving that should be enough for them. West Coast will want to put them to the sword to secure an all-important percentage boost coming into the business end of the season.
West Coast by 58.
B: Beau Waters, Darren Glass, Patrick McGinnity
HB: Shannon Hurn, Eric Mackenzie, Mitch Brown
C: Andrew Gaff, Matthew Priddis, Brad Sheppard
HF: Josh Hill, Quinten Lynch, Chris Masten
F: Nic Naitanui, Jack Darling, Daniel Kerr
Foll: Dean Cox, Scott Selwood, Luke Shuey
I/C: Matthew Rosa, Ashton Hams, Jacob Brennan, Murray Newman
Emg: Sam Butler, Thomas Swift, Koby Stevens
In: Murray Newman
Out: Thomas Swift
New: Murray Newman (Swan Districts)
Gold Coast Suns
B: Alex Sexton, Matthew Warnock, Taylor Hine
HB: Sam Iles, Steven May, Trent McKenzie
C: Matt Shaw, Karmichael Hunt, Harley Bennell
HF: Jared Brennan, Charlie Dixon, Liam Patrick
F: Daniel Stanley, Sam Day, Brandon Matera
Foll: Tom Hickey, Josh Caddy, Gary Ablett
I/C: Zac Smith, Jarrod Harbrow, Joel Wilkinson, Kyal Horsley
Emg: Jeremy Taylor, Aaron Hall, Andrew McQualter
In: Jarrod Harbrow, Charlie Dixon, Matt Shaw, Steven May
Out: Luke Russell (Hamstring), Rory Thompson (Ankle), Michael Rischitelli (Hamstring), Seb Tape (Knee)
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