AFL Round 9 Preview: Essendon v West Coast

WHERE: Etihad Stadium, Sunday, May 21, 11.10pm AWST

THE LAST FIVE
R15, 2016: West Coast Eagles 20.10 (130) def Essendon 7.10 (52) at Domain Stadium
R11, 2015: West Coast Eagles 14.12 (96) def Essendon 6.10 (46) at Domain Stadium
R21, 2014: Essendon 11.11 (77) def West Coast Eagles 11.8 (74) at Etihad Stadium
R20, 2013: West Coast Eagles 18.12 (120) def Essendon 9.13 (67) at Etihad Stadium
R14, 2013: Essendon 15.8 (98) def West Coast Eagles 13.13 (91) at Domain Stadium

OVERVIEW

West Coast hung on against a fast-finishing Dogs outfit on Friday night. An eight point win should have been much larger had Josh Kennedy kicked straight. Regardless on Kennedy’s kicking woes, West Coast secured another crucial four points against a quality opponent.

Over east, Essendon celebrated James Kelly’s 300th with an emphatic win over against Geelong, for whom he played 273 games. In what was their best performance for the year, the Bombers dispatched of the Cats to the tune of 17 points; however, the way the Cats are playing, they could not claw their way through a ball of yarn.

It is a tale of two forward lines this week. West Coast is arguably the most dominant aerial team in the competition, with the likes of Yeo, McGovern, and Barrass plucking just about everything that comes their way. For the Bombers, their exciting small forwards may cause the Eagles’ bigs some headaches.

TALKING POINTS

1. Eleni Glouftsis will make history on Sunday, becoming the first woman to umpire a premiership match. Here is hoping she receives the exact same lack of respect from the crowd as her male counterparts.

2. In round six, Joe Daniher kicked 1.6; last week Josh Kennedy bagged 3.6. Which spearhead will kick the most behinds this week?

3. Following their round one thumping of North Melbourne, the Eagles should hold no fears heading to Etihad Stadium. That being said, the Bombers do hold a head-to-head advantage of 10-3 at the ground.

4. Last week’s inaccuracy saw Josh Kennedy slip to second in the race for the Coleman Medal. Etihad Stadium’s fast deck should see plenty of supply head the big forward’s way.

5. West Coast is ranked third in the competition for uncontested possession. If they can win the contest inside, look for the Eagles to dominate outside.

MOST AT STAKE FOR… Jack Darling.

At his best, Jack Darling is a dynamic, game-changing player. At his worst, Jack Darling is a dynamic, game-changing player for all the wrong reasons. Darling is averaging a career low 4.4 marks per game this season. However, he is still hitting the scoreboard, averaging 2.1 goals per game. West Coast fans will be looking for Darling to bring effort and pressure around the contest this week. If he can follow last week’s career high six one-percenters, West Coast should win comfortably.

TIP: West Coast by 30.

SECOND TIP: Sam Mitchell has 15 touches in the first quarter.

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