West Coast must defeat the Western Bulldogs at Docklands on Sunday. If they don’t, they can kiss their premiership hopes goodbye.
It’s a genuine eight-point game between the sides sitting fifth and sixth on the ladder and the Eagles are yet to win in Melbourne this year.
West Coast’s record under the roof isn’t that bad, with wins in three of their last six at the venue, while their combined losing margin is only 16 points.
But for the Eagles, easy kills at home are a façade.
Even though they’ve won their past two home matches by a combined margin of 180 points, they’ve been unconvincing.
Against Gold Coast, their defensive structures regularly left Suns spearhead Tom Lynch alone inside forward 50.
Slicker sides expose the Eagles defensively with superior ball use – it was a regular occurrence against Port Adelaide the week before – and curbing that is their biggest challenge this weekend against a Dogs side who have won 14 of their last 16 at Docklands.
Geelong’s premiership credentials have taken a battering this past fortnight, and it doesn’t get any easier when they face GWS at Simonds Stadium on Saturday. Smarting after a quiet game against Adelaide, expect Steve Johnson to turn on a show against his old side.
Most at stake
Imagine if Fremantle lose at home – to Essendon? Last year’s minor premiers are 0-10 and the scrutiny will seriously increase if they lose to the undermanned Bombers.
Gold Coast will be more competitive against Sydney. A bevy of experienced players have returned in the past fortnight, and the effort was good last week despite a 77-point loss to West Coast.
Melbourne won’t beat Hawthorn. They haven’t beaten the Hawks since 2006, losing 12 in a row. The number 13 will be unlucky for them.
One to watch
Connor Blakely has been a revelation for Fremantle this past fortnight. The tall midfielder is a clearance machine, and along with Lachie Neale has been a shining light in an undermanned midfield.
Last week we showed how West Coast’s defence at home differs to on the road, but offensively the travel has had an impact on the likes of All-Australian forward Mark LeCras. In four games on the road, LeCras only has one goal, compared to 16 goals in six games at home.
Feeling the heat
Yet to have more than 18 disposals in a match this year, Hawthorn need more from Bradley Hill. Only injury issues have kept the winger in the side this year but a man called Dallas Willsmore is demanding a game at Box Hill. Hill was better last week but must lift.
Reece Conca impressed many in his second VFL game since overcoming hamstring issues, racking up 27 touches and eight tackles. He wasn’t picked for Friday’s game against the Kangaroos but is in good touch.
Fringe Giant Adam Tomlinson dominated the NEAFL before his call-up for GWS on the weekend, but despite being contracted until the end of 2017, Victorian clubs are confident they can lure him home.
Don’t set the IQ
Bottom of the table clashes are hardly compulsory viewing. Make plans to avoid the Fremantle/Essendon clash on Saturday night.