WHERE: Metricon Stadium, Saturday, June 3, 1.45pm AWST
THE LAST FIVE
R10, 2016: West Coast 20.12 (132) def Gold Coast 7.13 (55) at Domain Stadium
R18, 2015: Gold Coast 12.11 (83) drew West Coast 11.17 (83) at Metricon Stadium
R7, 2015: West Coast 21.9 (135) def Gold Coast 6.7 (43) at Domain Stadium
R23, 2014: West Coast 23.13 (151) def Gold Coast 15.9 (99) at Metricon Stadium
R13, 2014: West Coast 15.13 (103) def Gold Coast 15.10 (100) at Domain Stadium
Is West Coast in trouble? Well, the numbers certainly say so. We already know what the Eagles’ ruck situation looks like, but there is no way that such a talented midfield unit should be 18th in the competition for clearances. While there is no shame in losing to GWS, last week was a game the Eagle should have won. Can they bounce back against the Suns? It is certainly hard to pick a winner.
The Suns were an absolute shambles against Port Adelaide in China, and they looked tired for a team coming off a bye. Rodney Eade will be hoping Gary Ablett’s inclusion will steady a team on the cusp of another wasted season.
Before the start of the season, West Coast fans would have pencilled this one in. However, times have changed since then, and the Eagles look a little lost right now. If ever there was a time to face West Coast, it is now for the Suns.
1. The midfield battle does not get any easier for the Eagles this week, with Gary Ablett set to return from injury. A run-with role may be on the cards for Mark Hutchings if Ablett heats up early.
2. The Eagles lost to GWS for the first time ever last week. Through eight games, the Suns have only managed one draw against West Coast. Will this be a history making week for the Suns?
3. Lewis Jetta was huge for the Eagles last week, putting in his best performance since moving to the club. With 28 touches and two goals, he set himself a benchmark. If he can continue to back it up, he may prove to be a barometer for the Eagles.
4. A calf injury to Josh Kennedy is a massive blow for the Eagles, with the spearhead averaging five goals a game against the Suns throughout his career. Will Adam Simpson turn to youth up forward or shuffle Jeremy McGovern around?
5. The formula for beating West Coast is simple: win the ball inside and run as fast as you can for as long as you can. The inclusion of Drew Petrie and Sam Mitchell has West Coast stuck with the oldest list in the AFL. What is more concerning, however, is their lack of pace through the midfield. It may be time for an injection of youth. Did someone say Daniel Venables?
MOST AT STAKE FOR… Jack Darling.
While it is still uncertain what strategy Adam Simpson will employ to cover the loss of Josh Kennedy, one thing is for sure: this is Jack Darling’s time to shine. Darling is no Kennedy, but the pressure-hungry forward will be keen to take on more responsibility.
TIP: West Coast by 17.
SECOND TIP: Lewis Jetta is best on ground.