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Elimination Final Subiaco Oval
Thu, 08 Sep 2016 • 18:10 WST
West Coast Western Bulldogs
7.10 (52) 14.15 (99)
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Round 2 Subiaco Oval
Sat, 01 Apr 2017 • 17:40 WST
West Coast v St Kilda
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Injury List

Player Injury Weeks
Rioli Hamstring 6
Waterman Foot 8-10
Lycett Shoulder 12-15
Tunbridge ACL 12-16
Naitanui ACL 15-20
Allen Hamstring indef


AFL Ladder

Team P % Pts
1. West Coast -- 0
2. Sydney -- 0
3. Geelong -- 0
4. Hawthorn -- 0
5. GWS Giants -- 0
6. Adelaide -- 0
7. W. Bulldogs -- 0
8. North Melb. -- 0
9. St Kilda -- 0
10. Port Adel. -- 0
11. Melbourne -- 0
12. Coll'wood -- 0
13. Richmond -- 0
14. Carlton -- 0
15. Gold Coast -- 0
16. Fremantle -- 0
17. Brisbane -- 0
18. Essenscum -- 0


by Matt Quinn
2nd October 2015
The Eagles are in the Grand Final.

Repeat that to yourself for a second. The Eagles are in the Grand Final. Pinch yourself, and you'll see that it's actually true. Our boys have defied every expectation to be playing off tomorrow for the Premiership Cup. We're up against the dual reigning premiers Hawthorn, who've pretty much matched the expectation pre-season that they'd be here in the decider. The pre-season favourites against a complete rank outsider....

So let's look at just how far we've come:
Before the pre-season: we might have hoped for modest improvement. Finals perhaps, at best a home final.

Pre-season: we lose reigning F&B Eric Mackenzie. That expectation dives to hoping we can perform as well as last year.

Round 1: We add Mitch Brown to the season losses, while we drop the game to the Bulldogs leaving us with a bare bones defence. We hope that we're not heading backward.

Round 3: The Dockers put 11 goals past the Eagles before there's a score registered. Calls for the club to go a complete rebuild resound around Domain Stadium. Resignation sets in.

Then things change a bit. We play a few lower ranked teams, and the Eagles are moving up the table... dare we hope again for finals?

Round 10: We drop the game at Bellerive to North. But we're showing some form, and think that maybe we can sneak into the eight.

Round 12: We go on a short break to play an in-form Richmond at the 'G when they've had two weeks off. And win. The belief is starting to appear, and whispers about maybe making the top four start to appear, but the hard run against Sydney, Freo and the Hawks is still to come

Round 17: We knock off the Swans by 52 points. That's another top four team and the flat track bullies epithet is totally destroyed. The whispers get louder.

Round 19/20: After a weakened team only just goes down to the Hawks in round 19, a massive win over Freo in round 20 puts the Eagles in the box seat for a top two finish. Dare we to dream?

The Eagles finish second on the ladder (courtesy of only drawing to the Gold Coast in round 18). But it's already way more than the expectations pre-season.

Qualifying Final: We draw the dual reigning premiers for this match, and go in as outsiders. When the margin's 50 points to the good at 3/4 time, the Eagles are suddenly flag favourites.

Preliminary Final: It takes a long time to get going, but the class of the Eagles overruns North Melbourne. The Eagles have made the most unlikely of Grand Final appearances

Grand Final: It's the Hawks again - and again the Eagles go in as outsiders. What will the result be this time? Once you make the Grand Final, then there's only one result you want to see - Premiers.


Squads

West Coast Ruck B Sharrod Wellingham (12)
Will Schofield (31)
Shannon Hurn (25)
Hawthorn Ruck
Nic Naitanui (9)  F Luke Breust (22)
Jarryd Roughead (2)
Paul Puopolo (28)
Ben McEvoy (7)
Dominic Sheed (4)  HB Xavier Ellis (18)
Jeremy McGovern (20)
Brad Sheppard (5)
Luke Hodge (15)
Luke Shuey (13)  HF Cyril Rioli (33)
Ryan Schoenmakers (25)
Isaac Smith (16)
Jordan Lewis (3)
  C Matt Rosa (24)
Matthew Priddis (11)
Elliot Yeo (6)
  C Bradley Hill (10)
Sam Mitchell (5)
Liam Shiels (26)
  HF Andrew Gaff (3)
Jack Darling (27)
Jamie Cripps (15)
  HB Grant Birchall (14)
Josh Gibson (6)
Shaun Burgoyne (9)
  F Mark LeCras (2)
Josh Kennedy (17)
Josh Hill (33)
  B Benjamin Stratton (24)
Brian Lake (17)
James Frawley (12)
West Coast Interchange Sam Butler (26), Mark Hutchings (34), Callum Sinclair (22), Chris Masten (7),  
Jack Gunston (19), David Hale (20), Taylor Duryea (8), Matt Suckling (4), Hawthorn Interchange


Weather

Fine
Maximum Temperature:28

Changes

The Eagles have made no changes to the team, meaning that vice-captain Scott Selwood sits on the outer for the Grand Final. Unfortunate, but he's struggled with injury and then form all season, so it would have been harsh on other players to leave them out for him. Hopefully if he remains around there will be another chance for him in future seasons. Paddy McGinnity, who played a lot of games in 2015 also lists as an emergency along with Scott Lycett.

Oirishman Paddy Brophy is the Eagles runner in the Grand Final Sprint.

The Hawks have made one change, bringing Jack Gunston back into the team for the unfortunate Billy Hartung.

Injuries and Suspensions

The Eagles seem pretty injury free (well other than the players unavailable for the season). There were no new injury concerns coming out of last week's game.

The Hawks will have some concern over the fitness of Luke Hodge who took a big hit last week, while Jack Gunston comes back after missing a couple of weeks with a leg injury incurred in the Qualifying Final. Isaac Smith however should be a lot better for the run than he was in the QF in Perth.
Player Injury Weeks
Tunbridge Ankle 1
Waterman Glandular Fever 1
Duggan Knee 1
McInnes Hamstring 1
Brown Knee ACL 1
MacKenzie Knee ACL 1
Cavka Foot 1


Lead up

When the Eagles dispatched the Hawks in the Qualifying Final, West Coast moved into absolute favouritism for the flag, given the sheer quality of the win over the Hawks who had entered the finals as flag favourites. This was built on dismantling Hawthorn's game with intense pressure and quality skills, while the Hawks panicked and coughed up the ball.

The Prelim though saw North find a path past the Eagles defensive setups (the so-called Web) to start the game, but the Eagles got the game going again to battle inaccuracy (it was a bit swirly) to see off a determined opposition. But there were questions asked due to the win not being the easy one predicted pre-game... though not that hard either. The other question was over accuracy in front of goal, because 10.20 does not win Grand Finals.

While the Hawks' stocks dropped with their QF loss, they made up a lot of ground when they cruised past the Crows in the Semi Final, racking up a win by over ten goals. The media talked about their mojo being back.

They followed up by defeating the Purple (finishing the dream of a Derby GF) in their Preliminary Final - though it wasn't that easy, with Freo starting well before the Hawks took control. That said, it took Hawthorn until the last term to shake off the Dockers properly. In some respects this was a closer PF than the Eagles one as Hawthorn won with very good accuracy while Freo missed more than a few chances.

Matchups

Last week, the question was whether Nic Naitanui could curb the influence of All-Australian ruckman Todd Goldstein. The answer was *yes and more*, and this week the Hawks don't have a ruckman of that quality. Ben McEvoy is a solid ruckman, but not a brilliant one, and Naitanui should be able to give the Eagles a fairly good chance of breaking even in the clearances.

That said, in the Qualifying Final, the Hawks won the clearances comfortably, but didn't win the game. The question then has to be, why? The answer then has to be absolutely stultifying pressure on the ball carrier by the Eagles runners, who had a superb day, even without clearance machine Matt Priddis. If the same can be true this week - with Priddis an in to win a few more for the Eagles, that goes a long way to winning the game for West Coast.

While Priddis is a big in for West Coast, the Hawks went into the QF with their major ball winner in Sam Mitchell, and he was outstanding in a team that fell away fast. If he gets a bit more support from his teammates in this game, the Hawks will be a much stronger team than they showed in the QF. The different dimensions of the MCG over Subiaco may benefit Hawthorn in this, though the Eagles defensive web has been pretty functional at every ground that it's been seen on this year (OK, maybe not Bellerive, but playing in a windstorm makes any game a lottery). Can the Eagles midfielders contain Lewis, Hodge, Mitchell and co this week? Can the Hawks stop the amazing improvement of Priddis, Gaff, Shuey and Hutchings?

Each end of the ground has a big goal kicking forward or two. The form of Josh Kennedy for the Eagles has been exemplary, even playing a role more up the ground last week. Jack Darling on the other hand has been up and down for a while, and would be looking to turn on a stronger performance this week. Up the other end Jarryd Roughhead is in solid form, but Jack Gunston is coming back from a two week layoff.

Then of course there's the small forwards - Hawthorn have Cyril Rioli, Luke Breust and Paul Puopolo who all like a goal, but that's well countered by the form in 2015 of Mark LeCras, Josh Hill and Jamie Cripps. The defences of both teams will be stretched this week, and while the Hawks have a pretty full strength lineup, the Eagles defence has been so good this year that the term makeshift is unfair to use any more, with Sharrod Wellingham playing the best footy of his career, Brad Sheppard having a breakout season as a small defender and of course the lion hearted efforts of Jeremy McGovern and Will Schofield to hold down the key defender roles so well.

Recent Meetings

The teams have broken even with one win each at Subiaco this year, though the Eagles were quite depleted in round 19 in losing to the Hawks, while both teams were close to full strength for the Qualifying Final. Anything earlier than that is probably not relevant!
2015, Qualifying Final Subiaco Oval
West Coast 2.2 7.6 12.11 14.12 (96)
Hawthorn 2.3 2.4 4.9 9.10 (64)
Fri 11th Sep 2015 West Coast by 32

2015, Round 19 Subiaco Oval
Hawthorn 2.3 5.5 8.8 13.10 (88)
West Coast 5.3 6.5 9.6 11.8 (74)
Sat 8th Aug 2015 Hawthorn by 14

2014, Round 12 York Park
Hawthorn 3.4 10.6 16.7 19.9 (123)
West Coast 4.4 7.5 8.7 12.7 (79)
Sat 7th Jun 2014 Hawthorn by 44

2013, Round 13 Docklands
Hawthorn 6.0 12.2 16.4 19.9 (123)
West Coast 6.2 7.6 12.7 16.7 (103)
Fri 21st Jun 2013 Hawthorn by 20

2013, Round 2 Subiaco Oval
Hawthorn 6.1 11.2 15.7 23.10 (148)
West Coast 1.3 6.6 12.6 15.8 (98)
Sun 7th Apr 2013 Hawthorn by 50


Head to Head


Overall: West Coast 25 Hawthorn 20 Draws 0
At MCG West Coast 1 Hawthorn 3 Draws 0

West Coast biggest win: 82 points; West Coast 21.18 (144) d Hawthorn 8.14 (62) at Princes Park, 1991, Round 7
Hawthorn biggest win: 91 points; Hawthorn 19.27 (141) d West Coast 6.14 (50) at Princes Park, 1989, Round 14


Other Matches


Summary

What have the teams got going for them? Well Hawthorn have the advantage of it being on their home ground, and having much experience in playing in Grand Finals in recent years. But it's not everything - the last time a team played its fourth GF in a row against relative GF neophytes, Port knocked off Brisbane in '04. And the advantage of being Victorian seems to evaporate a little on Grand Final day - of the ten grand finals between Victorian teams and non-Vic teams, seven have been won by the travelling team.

The Eagles have the advantage of a recent morale boosting win over Hawthorn in a massive pressure game. OK, a Qualifying Final is not a Grand Final by any stretch of the imagination, but it shows that the Eagles had a plan to shut down the Hawks and executed it successfully in a massive game. But of course, that game was held on the hallowed turf of Subiaco, not the MCG, so does it stack up?

This is a ripper matchup for a Grand Final. Both teams have claims as to why they should be able to win. For mine, I'm tipping with the heart, because it's a Grand Final, and it shouldn't be anything else. Plus, I think West Coast might just have the Hawks measure.

Prediction: West Coast by 14 points



 
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