AFL Round 2 Preview: West Coast v St Kilda

WHERE: Domain Stadium, Saturday, April 1, 4.40pm AWST

THE LAST FIVE
R8, 2016: West Coast 20.12 (132) def St Kilda 3.11 (29) at Domain Stadium
R23, 2015: West Coast 18.17 (125) def St Kilda 4.6 (30) at Domain Stadium
R8, 2015: West Coast 20.11 (131) def St Kilda 12.6 (78) at Etihad Stadium
R14, 2014: West Coast 15.13 (103) def St Kilda 10.10 (70) at Etihad Stadium
R3, 2014: West Coast 12.11 (83) def St Kilda 8.10 (58) at Domain Stadium

OVERVIEW

While the Saints may have left Etihad stadium with their halos between their legs following an Old Testament beat down at the hands of the Demons last Saturday, the Eagles tore through the Kangaroos like a road train on the Great Northern Highway, leaving Etihad Stadium reeking of road kill and Brad Scott’s tears.

After struggling away from home in 2016, St Kilda has been tinkering with their travel routine. However, unless they can travel back in time and bring back Lenny Hayes, Nick Dal Santo and Brendan Goddard, they can expect more road misery at the hands of West Coast. The Eagles, on the other hand, continue to make Domain Stadium a fortress, winning 11 of 13 games at the venue in 2016.

Look for this game to be won and lost in the midfield. The Eagles’ mids ran riot in round one with Sam Mitchell (38), Andrew Gaff (36), Luke Shuey (31) and Matt Priddis (29) all collecting big numbers. For the Saints, well, they lost the disposal battle by 117, had 12 fewer inside 50s and conceded 16 goals after quarter-time.

TALKING POINTS

1. What the ruck is going on at West Coast? Drew Petrie barely lasted longer than a communion waffer in the mouth of a hungry Catholic school boy in his debut for the Eagles, fracturing his hand in the first quarter. Although Petrie did manage to finish the game, it is always such a shame when a young player goes down with injury.

2. To say that West Coast has put St Kilda to the sword recently, is putting it lightly; the Eagles have won their last seven against the Saints, with the last five at a combined 85.64 (574) to 39.43 (265).

3. Mark LeCras (4) and Josh Kennedy (7) combined for 11 goals in round one. Coincidentally, Mark LeCras (6) and Josh Kennedy (5) combined for 11 goals the last time they played the Saints. To put that number into perspective, St Kilda has managed just seven goals against West Coast in their last two matches. Will this be the day St Kilda finally defeats Mark LeCras and Josh Kennedy?

4. Even at 34 years of age, only a heretic would argue that Nick Riewoldt is not St Kilda’s most important player. Whilst scans cleared Riewoldt of a career-ending ACL injury, St Kilda’s messiah is expected to miss two to three weeks.

5. Tom Barrass, or not Tom Barrass:  that is the question. While Eric Mackenzie may have held Tom Barrass out of the Eagles’ best 22 in round one, after a poor showing down back against the Kangaroos, his spot appears as secure as his ACL. Mackenzie will be “rested” against the Saints.

MOST AT STAKE FOR… Jackson Nelson.
Following some strong form in the JLT Community Series, Jackson Nelson was rewarded with a spot in the Eagles’ loaded backline in round one. With just eight touches, Nelson failed to have any real impact on the games and will need to bounce back if he hopes to keep Will Schofield and Sam Butler out of the best 22.

TIP: West Coast by 45 Hail Marys.

SECOND TIP: Jesus returns before St Kilda win another flag.

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