AFL Round 20 Preview: St Kilda v West Coast

WHERE: Etihad Stadium, Sunday, August 6, 11.20am AWST

THE LAST FIVE
R2, 2017: West Coast Eagles 18.8 (116) def St Kilda 13.19 (97) at Domain Stadium
R8, 2016: West Coast Eagles 20.12 (132) def St Kilda 3.11 (29) at Domain Stadium
R23, 2015: West Coast Eagles 18.17 (125) def St Kilda 4.6 (30) at Domain Stadium
R8, 2015: West Coast Eagles 20.11 (131) def St Kilda 12.6 (78) at Etihad Stadium
R14, 2014: West Coast Eagles 15.13 (103) def St Kilda 10.10 (70) at Etihad Stadium

OVERVIEW

West Coast and St Kilda find themselves in quite similar positions coming into Sunday’s crucial clash. At 10-8 and 9-9, respectively, the Eagles and Saints have both managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in recent weeks. West Coast coughed up a 24-point lead to Collingwood, and St Kilda somehow managed to lose to Port Adelaide last week.

As we near the end of yet another AFL season, we are beginning to see more and more players hang up the boots. The Eagles will be without the on-field services of Matt Priddis and Sam Mitchell next season, while the Saints are set to lose favourite son Nick Reiwoldt.

Whilst neither side has done anything to suggest they are serious contenders this season, we all know what happened last year when the Dogs hit form towards September. With a crucial four points up for grabs, there is no reason for both teams to not fire up this week.

TALKING POINTS

1. Accuracy cost St Kilda a rare win in Perth back in round 2, kicking rotten 13.19 in front of the big sticks. Five goals to one in the fourth saw the Eagles storm home for a rather unconvincing win in front of a nervous Domain Stadium crowd.

2. Before Sunday’s game Nick Reiwoldt, Sam Mitchell and Matt Priddis have combined to a total of 891 AFL games. With Reiwoldt set to miss again, he has almost certainly played his last game against the Eagles.

3. For Eagles fans, Luke Partington’s inclusion in the West Coast side last week was a welcome injection of youth. 16 touches and a goal on debut should be enough for the promising South Australian to hold his spot for at least one more week.

4. Against the Lions last week, West Coast cracked 100 points for just the third time this season. On the flip side, St Kilda is struggling to hit the scoreboard, averaging just 59 points per game in their last three outings.

5. Since his return from a calf injury, two-time Coleman Medalist Josh Kennedy has kicked 15 goals in just three games. Remarkably, following five weeks on the sidelines, Kennedy sits just four majors behind Joe Daniher. Even if Kennedy fails to reclaim his crown, there is no doubt who is the best spearhead in the competition.

MOST AT STAKE FOR… Sam Mitchell.

Saying goodbye is never fun. For Sam Mitchell, Sunday’s clash may very well be his final game in Melbourne, unless West Coast sneak into the eight and are forced to travel interstate. Mitchell will swap his boots for dress shoes next year as he moves into the Eagles’ coaching box. Expect a big game from the 323-game veteran, who will surely be lacing them up in front of a large collection of friends and family.

TIP: West Coast by 3.

SECOND TIP: If the game is close in the fourth, Liam Duggan will think twice before playing on.

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