AFL Round 17 Preview: Fremantle v West Coast

WHERE: Domain Stadium, Sunday, July 16, 2.40pm AWST

THE LAST FIVE
R6, 2017: West Coast 16.7 (103) def Fremantle Dockers 9.8 (62) at Domain Stadium
R20, 2016: West Coast 17.8 (110) def Fremantle Dockers 9.10 (64) at Domain Stadium
R3, 2016: West Coast 12.20 (92) def Fremantle Dockers 8.11 (59) at Domain Stadium
R20, 2015: West Coast 15.14 (104) def Fremantle Dockers 11.14 (80) at Domain Stadium
R3, 2015: Fremantle Dockers 17.9 (111) def West Coast 12.9 (81) at Domain Stadium

OVERVIEW

The end of an era is upon us. Yes, this Sunday will be the 46th and final Western Derby played at Domain Stadium. After 45 matches between these two bitter rivals, the Eagles hold the overall advantage 25-20, having won the last four on the trot. However, in a season where form seemingly counts for nothing, picking a winner on Sunday looks difficult.

Freo has made a habit of the close finish this season, most recently escaping with a four-point victory over North Melbourne (thanks, Todd Goldstein). While close wins are always exciting, what is most promising is Nat Fyfe’s return to form and the emergence of first-year ruckman Sean Darcy. Another close win on Sunday and the Dockers might just be a sneaky finals chance.

When was the last time you can remember a team making four changes to a winning side? That’s exactly what Adam Simpson and the Eagles’ match committee did last week, resulting in West Coast’s third home loss from their last four games. Will Adam Simpson find the answers at the selection table this week?

TALKING POINTS

1. Josh Kennedy’s return cannot come soon enough for the Eagles. The dual Coleman Medallist has booted 13 goals in his last two derbies.

2. A win on Sunday would make it five-straight Western Derby wins for West Coast. Before that, Fremantle won the last six.

3. The biggest crowd between these teams was 43,527 back in 2006. Surely Gillon McLachlan will be licking his lips over the increased seating capacity at Perth Stadium next year.

4. Michael Walters has had 56 touches and nine goals over his last two games. More time on the ball this season has added a new dimension to Freo’s midfield as they wait patiently for Nat Fyfe to regain his dominance. Who gets the job on Walters this week? A run-with role for Brad Sheppard could be an interesting move.

5. West Coast lowered their colours around the contest last week, only managing to lay 51 tackles. The Eagles average 66.4 tackles per game, 2.8 more than the Dockers. Which side will step up in pressure on Sunday?

MOST AT STAKE FOR… Michael Walters’ opponent.

Tagging is back in fashion in season 2017. For the Eagles, Mark Hutchings has been Adam Simpson’s go-to run-with player over the last few weeks. Hutchings, however, may not have the pace to tag Michael Walters around Domain Stadium. Walters has shown what he can do when he gets off the leash, so Adam Simpson will certainly put some time into quelling his influence on Sunday.

TIP: West Coast by 21.

SECOND TIP: Josh Kennedy puts himself back in Coleman contention.

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