AFL Round 15 Preview: Western Bulldogs v West Coast

WHERE: Etihad Stadium, Saturday, July 1, 11:45am AWST

THE LAST FIVE
R8, 2017: West Coast 9.15 (69) def Western Bulldogs 8.13 (61) at Domain Stadium
2EF, 2016: Western Bulldogs 14.15 (99) def West Coast 7.10 (52) at Domain Stadium
R11, 2016: Western Bulldogs 12.11 (83) def West Coast 11.9 (75) at Etihad Stadium
R21, 2015: West Coast 25.12 (162) def Western Bulldogs 13.7 (85) at Domain Stadium
R1, 2015: Western Bulldogs 14.13 (97) def West Coast 14.3 (87) at Etihad Stadium

OVERVIEW

Based on form alone, West Coast’s round-eight win over the Bulldogs seems like years ago. With just a solitary win from their last five games, the Eagles are a team struggling to find their groove in 2017. However, their last three loses have been by only eight points, three points, and three points, so it is far from panic stations just yet.

For the Bulldogs, the premiership hangover continues. Two wins from their last five, including a sneaky one-point win over North last week, sees the Dogs outside the eight. If last year was any indication, teams will be wary of the Dogs catching fire towards the end of the season.

The Dogs had a dream finish to 2016, including a massive 47-point finals victory over West Coast. Winning from outside the top four seemed almost impossible until last year, but the Dogs proved all the experts wrong. But do you know what is impossible? Winning a flag from outside the eight. The Dogs better get a move on, and a big win over West Coast may be the place to start.

TALKING POINTS

1. While Jeremy McGovern managed to kick three goals last week, the Eagles missed him down back with Tom MacDonald booting five. Josh Kennedy will miss again this week. Who do the Eagles turn to up forward?

2. Tom Campbell had his best game for the Dogs last week, with 49 hit-outs. The Dogs, however, remain the worst centre clearance team in the competition.

3. Much is said about the Eagles’ poor road form, but the Eagles have managed to win five out of nine against the Dogs at Etihad Stadium. But maybe we should avoid talking about what happened when they visited the venue in round nine.

4. The Eagles lost the free kick count 12-15 at home against the Dogs in round eight, a rare occurrence at Domain Stadium. Josh Kennedy also managed 3.6 in front of the sticks. Who will step up and kick a bag of behinds for the Eagles this week? If recent form is anything to go by, Jamie Cripps looks like the odds-on favourite.

5. West Coast will be without Shannon Hurn’s hairline this week, which should open the door for Sharrod Wellingham’s return. For the Dogs, they welcome back Robert Murphy from a hamstring injury.

MOST AT STAKE FOR… Will Schofield.

It is not easy being a ginger in Australia. It is definitely not easy being Clayton Oliver right now. Picking on redheads is pretty much a national sport down under, so it was not very surprising when seemingly the entire country jumped on the “Clayton Oliver’s a crab” bandwagon this week. Will Schofield will be looking to make the most of his win at the tribunal.

TIP: West Coast by 5.

SECOND TIP: Mark Hutchings tags Marcus Bontempelli.

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