It’s the biggest rivalry out west and it helps kick off the 2013 AFL Season as Fremantle and the West Coast Eagles lock horns at Patersons Stadium. We’ll have live scores and commentary from 7.40pm AEDT.
While there has been plenty of debate from Victorian footy fans about the way the season is kicking off, for those in Western Australia this is the perfect start to the year.
The Western Derby has been the only thing talked about at the watercooler all week in Perth.
After strong performances in 2012, the two teams deserved a blockbuster in round one. Bragging rights are on the line tonight.
West Coast come into the 2013 as one of the favourites for the flag, but also has a troubling injury list.
Mark Nicoski is on the long term injury list with surgery on his hamstring, while Daniel Kerr, Matt Rosa, Nic Naitanui and new recruit Sharrod Wellingham won’t be part of the team this weekend.
What the Eagles do have is depth.
Mark LeCras makes his return to the line up after a full year off with injury, but his pre-season form has been encouraging. Teamed up with Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling and Josh Hill, they will form a tough forward line to stop.
We saw Dean Cox have one of his best seasons last year and that looks to continue, despite not having Naitanui next to him.
While their midfield brigade has been built up nicely in the last couple of seasons with the emergence of Scott Selwood as a serious future star, to join Luke Shuey, Andrew Gaff and Chris Masten.
At Fremantle, a good pre-season and strong finish to 2012 has them firming as serious top four contenders.
It seemed like the win in the last Western Derby was the real catalyst for the Dockers to fly to the finals last year.
The good news coming into the first game of the year is their injuries are low. However, the two main injuries are to their talls – Aaron Sandilands and Zac Clarke.
This makes the job for Jon Griffin a very tough one in the opener and could give Jack Hannath a surprise debut.
Get ready for the hype to grow on Nat Fyfe this season.
The kid is a ball magnet and very classy. Despite only eight games in 2012, he managed to rack up 14 votes. His reconstructed left shoulder will be targeted early in the season though.
In fact, their midfield is all class. Adding Fyfe to David Mundy, Michael Barlow and Matt de Boer, along with Matthew Pavlich can be formidable.
It seemed by late last season the side were up to speed with Ross Lyon’s tactics. This should mean the side is well on pace from the start, especially in defence where Alex Silvagni, Nic Suban and Luke McPharlin looked solid in pre-season.
The Western Derby can at times be over-exaggerated. Tonight is not one of these cases.
Tonight’s match is a serious litmus test which could tell some very key signs in the early part of the season.
I feel the Dockers have a more stable line up, but the Eagles have enough depth to cover their injuries.
Either way, hold on tight – this will be worth the opening weekend billing!