AFL Round 6 Preview: West Coast v Fremantle

WHERE: Domain Stadium, Saturday, April 29, 6.10pm AWST

THE LAST FIVE
R20, 2016: West Coast 17.8 (110) def Fremantle 9.10 (64) at Domain Stadium
R3, 2016: West Coast 12.20 (92) def Fremantle 8.11 (59) at Domain Stadium
R20, 2015: West Coast 15.14 (104) def Fremantle 11.14 (80) at Domain Stadium
R3, 2015: Fremantle 17.9 (111) def West Coast 12.9 (81) at Domain Stadium
R15, 2014: Fremantle 13.10 (88) def West Coast 11.15 (81) at Domain Stadium

OVERVIEW

When Fremantle started the year 0-2, I, like many West Coast fans, let out tears of joy at the possibility of Fremantle returning to the shambles of a club they once were. Three weeks later the Dockers are running hot with consecutive wins over the Bulldogs, Melbourne and North Melbourne.

On the other hand, West Coast is playing like an under-heated microwave dinner: hot around the edges but freezing cold in the middle. While it may be painful for some fans to admit, the Eagles lack toughness, physically and mentally.

Three weeks ago, many West Coast supporters would have put a line though this round six encounter, but Fremantle simply look harder and hungrier than West Coast at the moment. The Dockers were jumpstarted following a hammering at the hands of Port Adelaide, so most Eagles fans will be expecting a similar reply following a shambolic performance against the Hawks.

TALKING POINTS

1. Stephen Hill is averaging 25 touches a game this year, and his run and carry has had a huge impact on Fremantle’s resurgence over recent weeks. A Hamstring injury will see Hill miss the Western Derby, so the Dockers will have to look elsewhere for a bit of pace.

2. West Coast had no debutants though the first five games of 2017, meaning either one of two things: West Coast rates their team higher than they should, or they do not rate their youngsters highly enough. However, injuries to Jamie Cripps and Jackson Nelson have opened the door for Kurt Mutimer to make his senior debut this week.

3. The Eagles are forth in the competition for uncontested disposal differential (+27.6), 49.6 more than they averaged last season. All the uncontested touches in the world do not matter if you fail to win the hard ball. Can West Coast match Fremantle’s new-found intensity?

4. ‘Big Boy’ Ben McEvoy made rucking against Nathan Vardy look like rucking against Dom Sheed, amassing 43 hit-outs last week. Freo leads the league in hit-out differential (+29.4), so West Coast’s midfielders will need to bring their reading glasses.

5. West Coast holds the head-to-head edge over Fremantle, with an all-time advantage of 24-20. A win for the Eagles would make it four in a row against their weird, purple neighbours.

MOST AT STAKE FOR… Adam Simpson.

Adam Simpson is usually a hard man to read. Of late, however, his press conferences have been very self-aware. Simpson knows his list lacks consistency, in terms of effort and intent, especially away from home, and if there are two things Fremantle has had lately, it is effort and intent. If the Eagles continue to serve up lackluster intensity, look for the pressure to switch quickly onto Simpson’s shoulders.

TIP: West Coast by 15.

SECOND TIP: West Coast fans get way too big for their boots following a home win.

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