AFL Round 18 Preview: Collingwood v West Coast

WHERE: Etihad Stadium, Sunday, July 23, 1.20pm AWST

THE LAST FIVE
R19, 2016: Collingwood 13.13 (91) def West Coast 11.6 (72) at the MCG
R6, 2016: West Coast 18.16 (124) def Collingwood 9.8 (62) at Domain Stadium
R16, 2015: West Coast 11.21 (87) def Collingwood 7.14 (56) at Etihad Stadium
R20, 2014: West Coast 19.12 (126) def Collingwood 10.6 (66) at Domain Stadium
R10, 2014: Collingwood 17.7 (109) def West Coast 15.11 (101) at the MCG

OVERVIEW

The Eagles are clinging to a top-eight spot, following a less-than-convincing win over Fremantle last week. However, their case for being a genuine contender looks shaky to say the least. To put it simply: this is a must-win game for an Eagles side struggling to get any real momentum going this season.

Last week’s Western Derby was not particularly pretty viewing, but Eagles fans should be encouraged by the more attacking style Adam Simpson was trying to play (at least in the first half). The Eagles looked into the corridor at every opportunity against the Dockers, something that could pay dividends on a fast Etihad deck.

No Scott Pendlebury could be the difference this week. If it is not, 200 games for Josh Kennedy and 150 for Luke Shuey should give the Eagles all the motivation they need to get the job done. West coast is yet to really put a team to bed this season, and Sunday might just be the day they get going.

TALKING POINTS

1. If there was ever a time for Josh Kennedy to kick a bag, Sunday is the day. The two-time reigning Coleman medalist finds himself just 10 goals off the pace following five games on the sidelines. A big bag would be the perfect way for the spearhead to celebrate his 200th AFL game.

2. Averaging 56.6 inside-50s per game, Collingwood is forth in the competition in that area, 6.3 per game more than the Eagles.

3. It appears that the days of big scores and big wins for West Coast are over. The Eagles have been an offensive powerhouse in recent years; however, in 2017, they’ve only managed over 100 points on three occasions — twice against Freo and once against the Kangaroos.

4. West Coast has been dubbed a poor travelling side, but their recent form at the Adelaide Oval and Etihad Stadium suggests otherwise. The Eagles have won four from their last six at Etihad, while Collingwood has managed just one win from their last seven at the venue.

5. Clearances continue to be a struggle for the Eagles, losing the count 40-28 against the Dockers last week. No Scott Pendlebury for the Pies, however, should help West Coast’s cause around the contest.

MOST AT STAKE FOR… Liam Duggan.

Coming off the best game of his short AFL career, Liam Duggan will be looking to cement his place in the Eagles’ best 22. Duggan looked at home at half-back in last week’s Western Derby, racking up a career-best 31 disposals. Duggan’s silky ball use combined with a hard edge around the contest is exactly what the Eagles have been lacking in 2017. Can Perth’s most eligible bachelor continue his hot form against the Pies?

TIP: West Coast by 29.

SECOND TIP: Eddie McGuire is unbearable yet again.

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