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Round 9 Docklands
Sun, 21 May 2017 • 11:10 WST
West Coast Essenscum
8.16 (64) 19.11 (125)
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Next Game

Round 10 Subiaco Oval
Sun, 28 May 2017 • 14:40 WST
West Coast v Greater Western Sydney
Game Focus


Injury List

Player Injury Weeks
Cripps Ankle test
Petrie* Hand test
Nelson Wrist test
Rioli Hamstring test
Watson Ankle 3
Lycett Shoulder 3
Tunbridge ACL 6
Naitanui ACL indef
Waterman Foot indef


AFL Ladder

Team P % Pts
1. Adelaide 9 135.1 28
2. GWS Giants 9 118.9 28
3. Geelong 9 117.6 24
4. West Coast 9 103.2 24
5. Fremantle 9 90.6 24
6. Port Adel. 8 150.8 20
7. Richmond 9 107.0 20
8. W. Bulldogs 9 103.7 20
9. St Kilda 9 103.1 20
10. Essenscum 9 99.2 20
11. Melbourne 9 108.6 16
12. Sydney 9 100.9 12
13. Coll'wood 9 94.5 12
14. North Melb. 9 94.5 12
15. Gold Coast 8 86.2 12
16. Carlton 9 78.0 12
17. Hawthorn 9 76.8 12
18. Brisbane 9 63.9 4


by Matt Quinn
25th March 2017
Footy's back (well the Eagles are anyway), and the season starts with a match on the road at the Grassless Knoll at Docklands. The Eagles come in looking good from the pre-season, with a few recruits making debuts straight out in round one.

The Eagles will be looking at this match to make a big start on a successful season in 2017 in what is one of the more low key matches to start the season.


Squads

West Coast Ruck B Shannon Hurn (25)
Eric MacKenzie (16)
Brad Sheppard (5)
North Melbourne Ruck
Nathan Vardy (19)  F Lindsay Thomas (12)
Braydon Preuss (31)
Shaun Higgins (4)
Todd Goldstein (22)
Luke Shuey (13)  HB Jackson Nelson (30)
Jeremy McGovern (20)
Sharrod Wellingham (12)
Jack Ziebell (7)
Sam Mitchell (1)  HF Nathan Hrovat (8)
Jarrad Waite (30)
Declan Mountford (42)
Andrew Swallow (9)
  C Elliot Yeo (6)
Matthew Priddis (11)
Andrew Gaff (3)
  C Jamie Macmillan (34)
Trent Dumont (14)
Jy Simpkin (21)
  HF Mark LeCras (2)
Jack Darling (27)
Lewis Jetta (23)
  HB Marley Williams (2)
Lachlan Hansen (6)
Shaun Atley (18)
  F Jamie Cripps (15)
Josh Kennedy (17)
Josh Hill (33)
  B Mitchell Hibberd (39)
Robbie Tarrant (25)
Luke McDonald (21)
West Coast Interchange Mark Hutchings (34), Drew Petrie* (21), Jack Redden (8), Chris Masten (7),  
Ben Brown (50), Sam Gibson (43), Kayne Turner (28), Scott Thompson (16), North Melbourne Interchange


Weather



Changes

From the game that finished the season off last year, the execrable performance at home in an Elimination Final, the Eagles have said goodbye to Mitch Brown, Dom Sheed, Tom Barrass and Will Schofield find themselves starting 2017 as an emergency, veteran Sam Butler has not found a spot in the team and ruckman Scott Lycett of course is missing with injury. In their place we see three offseason recruits in Sam Mitchell (307 games, Hawthorn), Drew Petrie (316 games, NM) against his old team, and Nathan Vardy (25 games, Geelong). In addition, Eric MacKenzie, Jackson Nelson and Jack Redden come back into the senior team.

Injuries and Suspensions

The Eagles start the season with a major injury crisis, with both first choice ruckmen in Nic Naitanui (knee) and Scott Lycett (shoulder) unavailable long term, opening up spots for Nathan Vardy, Drew Petrie and possibly Jon Giles or even Fraser McInnes. The two ruckmen though are the only major unavailable players from a hypothetical best 22 team.

North have Ben Cunnington unavailable due to a pre-season brain explosion while Ben Jacobs foot injury sees him unavailable.
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


Lead up

The Eagles went into the first pre-season match with half a team, and it showed, going down comfortably on the road to GWS. After that though, the Eagles comfortably accounted for Fremantle and Melbourne in more competitive hitouts.

North won their first two outings over the Swine and the Hawks, but lost in the last week to GWS.

That said, you can't read much into the pre-season form - most teams are trying things out, and winning or losing isn't really that important.

Matchups

There will be a lot of interest in how a few players perform in this match. The most anticipated position to review will be the ruck slots, with new recruits and makeshift ruckmen in Vardy and Petrie taking on North's ruck behemoth in Todd Goldstein. For Petrie it will also be a big clash against the team he represented for 16 years. The Eagles rucks won't be expected to win this clash, so the key will be the ability to win the clearances anyway, where the other main recruit, Sam Mitchell joins Matt Priddis in the engine room.

Defensively, the Eagles will have to face a tall North forward structure, but have stood pretty tall in the last couple of seasons with the likes of Jeremy McGovern and Brad Sheppard in particular having developed dramatically over the last couple of seasons. All eyes though will be on recalled former All Australian Eric MacKenzie to see whether he can slot in better this season than he did last year.

Up forward the Eagles look most similar to last season, though there will likely be some impact from both ruckmen being forward/rucks rather than pure rucks. The players to watch here will be Mark LeCras and Jack Darling, who have both had some questions over their performances asked - though not usually in run of the mill matches like this is supposed to be.

Recent Meetings

The Eagles won reasonably comfortably over North in the last clash in round 16 last season, but that result, like many in rounds around it was a scratchy victory where the Eagles didn't really shine - but in this case did what was required to win.
2016, Round 16 Subiaco Oval
West Coast 3.2 9.4 13.7 16.8 (104)
North Melbourne 2.1 6.4 8.4 11.6 (72)
Sun 10th Jul 2016 West Coast by 32

2015, Preliminary Final Subiaco Oval
West Coast 0.2 3.8 8.14 10.20 (80)
North Melbourne 3.4 4.7 5.11 7.13 (55)
Sat 26th Sep 2015 West Coast by 25

2015, Round 10 Bellerive
North Melbourne 4.4 5.4 9.6 13.7 (85)
West Coast 1.4 5.11 7.12 10.15 (75)
Sun 7th Jun 2015 North Melbourne by 10


Head to Head


Overall: West Coast 26 North Melbourne 21 Draws 0
At Docklands West Coast 2 North Melbourne 1 Draws 0

West Coast biggest win: 96 points; West Coast 24.18 (162) d North Melbourne 9.12 (66) at Subiaco Oval, 2012, Elimination Final
North Melbourne biggest win: 62 points; North Melbourne 15.16 (106) d West Coast 7.2 (44) at Princes Park, 1995, Round 18


Other Matches


Summary

With North finally embarking on the rebuild when they realised that there was never going to be a flag forthcoming with the team they could field from last season, the Eagles are coming into this match warm favourites. The ruck aside, the Eagles seem to have the better team on the park, and if West Coast can shut down North's clearances - or just win them anyway, then this *should* be a routine job.

That said, any win on the road is a big win, and it's a very important win to get if the Eagles are to improve on last season's relatively disappointing finish.

Prediction: West Coast by 23 points.



 
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