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Are West Coast playing with us?

Raymond Liu Roar Rookie

By Raymond Liu, Raymond Liu is a Roar Rookie New author!


15 Have your say

    After being considered as Richmond’s biggest threat in the first part of the season, the West Coast Eagles have struggled to continue their stunning start with injuries and poor form contributing to their struggles of late.

    It is safe to say not many of us expected the Eagles to be flying high in the top eight let alone the Top four of the competition and even leading the pack for a few weeks. After the retirements of veteran midfielders Sam Mitchell and Matt Priddis and barely sneaking into the finals in Season 2017, the Eagles depth was going to be tested and were considered the wooden-spooners of 2018 by Carlton great Robert Walls.

    A remarkable start to the season eventuated where they boasted a 10-1 record after 11 games which is their best start since 2006, where they the won the premiership. How wrong we got it!

    For the first 11 weeks, they were scoring more than 100 points on average (11 points up on 2017), ranked third behind Richmond and Melbourne, largely thanks to their superstar forwards Josh Kennedy (29 goals), Jack Darling (28) and Mark LeCras (22).

    The three have combined to boot at least one-third of the team’s goals on every occasion, with Kennedy continually bagging goals, Darling arguably being the best forward in the competition and in career-best form and LeCras resurrecting his career after a poor 2017 by his lofty standards.

    The ‘Weagles Web’ from 2015 was back on show with the skipper Shannon Hurn spearheading the defensive set up with he and Jeremy McGovern constantly taking intercept marks (contested and uncontested) to deny the opposition of the ball.

    They are ranked first in marks as well as contested marks to date, with Hurn averaging 8.3 marks a game (second overall) ranked behind Tom Jonas of Port Adelaide.

    Moreover, the Eagles are conceding on average 76.1 points a game, clearly improving on their defensive part of the game in 2018. Since Round 1 where Sydney’s Lance Franklin booted eight goals, the Eagles are yet to concede more than 90 points in a game since showing that there backline is solid.

    Despite looking unbeatable in the first half of the season, the Eagles season has come to bit of a halt win-wise, with 3 straight losses after the bye before snapping that poor run with a gritty 11 point win over GWS in Round 16.

    It was unsurprising where it broke down for the Eagles with their scoring drying up completely from 100 to just a tick over 62 points a game on average.

    Shannon Hurn

    Shannon Hurn of the Eagles (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

    Unfortunately, they lost one, two and three of their main forwards mentioned above in Rounds 13, 14 and 15 respectively which proved to be a blow severe enough to make a substantial difference. They first came up against Sydney who are never easy to face especially playing away. A Friday night thriller eventuated, with both teams giving their all in a fierce, high pressure contest that ended with the ladder leaders at that point eventually falling short.

    Astonishingly, what followed was simply a lacklustre performance against an improved Essendon back in Perth, where the Eagles surprisingly conceded the first eight goals of the game and never got into the contest at all.

    A disappointing final quarter fadeout against an out-of-form Adelaide summed up the struggles a team is bound to face when they are missing their three key forwards.

    Eventually, the high flying birds were able to post a decent score on the board against GWS, where they managed to get home in a thrilling contest courtesy of players including inexperienced forward Willee Rioli, swingman Elliott Yeo, prized midfielder Andrew Gaff, big men Jack Redden and Nic Naitanui as well as skipper Shannon Hurn stepping up and guiding them home to a much-needed win to stay in the Top four

    How important will this win be? It could well and truly be the difference between top four and top eight. The Eagles’ will to win despite suffering injuries to key players is without a doubt there, and with their three key forwards returning imminently as well as key defender Tom Barrass, there is definitely a good chance that they can return to their best form before the end of the season.

    Run Home (Currently 11-4)
    Round 17: V Collingwood (MCG)
    Round 18: V Western Bulldogs (OS)
    Round 19: V North Melbourne (BA)
    Round 20: V Fremantle (OS)
    Round 21: V Port Adelaide (AO)
    Round 22: V Melbourne (OS)
    Round 23: V Brisbane (G)

    We know the West Coast Eagles have a strong record at home and they should win their remaining three games back in Perth taking them to 14 wins.

    On the other hand, they hold a 4-2 record away from home with three of these wins coming against Carlton (MCG), Western Bulldogs (Etihad) and Hawthorn (Etihad). One would think they must win at least two of their four away games to make the top four whereas three out of four would guarantee a top four spot, allowing them to finish on 17-5.

    Jack Darling

    Can the Eagles continue their form? (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

    The main question is though, can they win the premiership? Well, the simple answer is of course they can! With a host of star players coming back, the team will undoubtedly be strengthened, however, doubts whether they can take a big scalp away from home especially in Melbourne will always exist until they do so.

    Collingwood at the MCG is the best way to make a stand and prove they can do it on the big stage. The probable return of Kennedy and Darling means it is the Eagles’ time to show that they can win on the home of football against a contender. North Melbourne in Tasmania is arguably as tough itself due to the volatile and unpredictable wind that can rear its ugly head in.

    There will be agreements and disagreements but in my opinion, if West Coast can win at the MCG and in Hobart, a deep run into the finals is more likely than not. If they cannot win at least two out of their next three games away from home, they most likely do not have what it takes to win the defining games on the big stages in September away from Perth.

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    The Crowd Says (15)

    • Roar Guru

      July 12th 2018 @ 8:28am
      Peter the Scribe said | July 12th 2018 @ 8:28am | ! Report

      Well the Eagles will face an undersized Pies defence with all their big blokes back. The Pies may be tempted to rush back Darcy Moore or will Bucks back our mids to generate enough inside 50’s in a shoot out? If we keep a small defence then we may well see an old fashined shoot out and a score similar to the Ess v Nth game a couple of weeks back.

      • July 12th 2018 @ 6:08pm
        Raymond Liu said | July 12th 2018 @ 6:08pm | ! Report

        Bucks would hate a shootout, judging by what he said after the Brisbane V Collingwood game, so don’t think that’ll happen. But you could be right as nothing is guaranteed.

        • Roar Guru

          July 13th 2018 @ 10:29am
          Peter the Scribe said | July 13th 2018 @ 10:29am | ! Report

          Raymond, there is a shootout against Brisbane (down the bottom) and there is a shootout with WCE (contender). Two very different things.

          • Roar Rookie

            July 13th 2018 @ 2:25pm
            Mattician6x6 said | July 13th 2018 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

            Who gets tagged, gaff or shuey?
            Expecting yeo to go to degoey

            • July 13th 2018 @ 7:04pm
              Anthony said | July 13th 2018 @ 7:04pm | ! Report

              Shep to de goey when forward and Yeo when he goes into the middle probably

    • Roar Rookie

      July 12th 2018 @ 11:13am
      Mattician6x6 said | July 12th 2018 @ 11:13am | ! Report

      Very confident in wce and their ability to go deep into September, get a win against collingwood on the weekend and those who jumped off over last month will be clambering to get back on.
      Fact in all but one game we where competitive is a sign of how good the coaching staff are with the players having complete faith in the structures in place

      • Roar Guru

        July 13th 2018 @ 10:30am
        Peter the Scribe said | July 13th 2018 @ 10:30am | ! Report

        The whole key for your finals campaign IMO Mattician, is to finish top 2 and get a home qualifying final. If you can do that you should make the GF.

    • Roar Guru

      July 12th 2018 @ 11:54am
      gameofmarks said | July 12th 2018 @ 11:54am | ! Report

      As per usual, it will be won or lost in the midfield.
      Grundy is the premier ruckman in the league.
      But Nic Nat showed just how much he can influence a game, even when playing sore.
      With Treloar out that might just tip the balance in favour of the WCE mids.
      If, and only IF, they can repeat their performance against GWS.
      The WCE mids on Sunday were outstanding as a group
      And need to play the same way on Sunday to get up against Collingwood.
      Nic Nat and Shuey were back to their best at the CBD
      It was great to see them connecting and clearing the ball with speed inside 50.
      If they can repeat that I would hate to be the Collingwood defence trying to stop JK and JD.

      • July 12th 2018 @ 6:20pm
        Raymond Liu said | July 12th 2018 @ 6:20pm | ! Report

        Spot on about the mids. We know the likes of Sidebottom and Pendles can step up when it’s hot at the MCG as seen from last week against the Dons. This week will tell us more on how good Gaff and Shuey are on the biggest stage of all. If they deliver the goods, then this will be one of the games of the round.

    • July 12th 2018 @ 12:55pm
      Baz said | July 12th 2018 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

      I expect WCE to win the inside 50 count & should win the game on that point alone…

    • July 12th 2018 @ 1:54pm
      IAP said | July 12th 2018 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

      West Coast are pretenders. It doesn’t matter if they make the finals, or the top 4, they’re not going to win the flag.

      • July 12th 2018 @ 3:55pm
        Joe B said | July 12th 2018 @ 3:55pm | ! Report

        You are right, it is fair to say that MCG tenants have a grossly unfair advantage over the rest of the competition. Especially when non-vic clubs are forced to play them all over the country, and rarely at their home ground.

        • July 12th 2018 @ 6:14pm
          Raymond Liu said | July 12th 2018 @ 6:14pm | ! Report

          Definitely not fair on the WCE and teams like Sydney who only get 2 games a year at the MCG compared to Richmond and Collingwood. Any ideas what the AFL should do to even it out a bit?

          • July 13th 2018 @ 8:11am
            IAP said | July 13th 2018 @ 8:11am | ! Report

            You people are like a broken record, stuck on the same excuse. Plenty of non-MCG tenants have won the Grand Final. The difference between them and you is that they didn’t make excuses.

    • July 12th 2018 @ 8:00pm
      Lroy said | July 12th 2018 @ 8:00pm | ! Report

      Eagles aren’t far of the mark.

      You cant take the 3 leading goalkickers out of any team simultaneously and expect them to win many games. Take your big 3 out of the Tigers and lets see how they fare, same for the Pies or any other top side.

      Only issue I have is some of the coaches selections. He sticks with guys like Masten and Jetta who have questions marks over their ability to deliver consistently in the big pressure moments. Conversely we have guys like Sheed playing in the WAFL who always delivers against quality opposition, I really don’t understand why he has overlooked of late.

      Venables was a revelation earlier in the year, after a couple of games at East Perth he needs to come back in ASAP, ditto for Petrucelle, his one game showed his speed is such that he gives them some real X factor if he gets the ball in space.

      Even without their gun forwards the Eagles were 3 goals in front of the Crows in Adelaide at 3/4 time, and kicked something like 3.5 against the Giants in the last quarter last week and still managed to win. So I dont care what anyone says, they arent far of the mark and will only get better from here on in.

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