AFL Round 21 Preview: West Coast v Carlton

WHERE: Domain Stadium, Saturday, August 12, 5.40pm AWST

THE LAST FIVE
R17, 2016: West Coast 12.10 (82) def Carlton 11.9 (75) at the MCG
R2, 2015: West Coast 20.11 (131) def Carlton 9.8 (62) at Domain Stadium
R6, 2014: Carlton 14.8 (92) def West Coast 12.17 (89) at Etihad Stadium
R4, 2013: Carlton 12.17 (89) def West Coast 7.23 (65) at Domain Stadium
R12, 2012: West Coast 10.19 (79) def Carlton 10.9 (69) at Domain Stadium

OVERVIEW

It has been a rough week for West Coast following yet another fourth-quarter fade-out. While last week’s score line may have been somewhat flattering for West Coast, the stats were a completely different story. From contested possessions to tackles and clearances, all the crucial numbers from last Sunday suggest a serious lack of hunger from the Eagles’ midfield.

There is no denying that the lack of a full-time ruckman has hurt West Coast this year, and the job does not get any easier on Saturday night against Matthew Kreuzer. Recent images of Nic Naitanui on the training track may have Eagles fans filled with hope of a late-season return, but there is no point in a return if there is nothing to play for.

While Carlton may be in the race for the spoon, some of their performances this year suggest they are making progress as a playing group. They have pushed Melbourne, Essendon and the Dogs in recent weeks, but simply pushing teams will not cut it for much longer.

TALKING POINTS

1. 2017 has been a year of missed opportunities for the Eagles, losing five games less than 10 points. Throw an 11-point loss to Richmond into the mix and the Eagles have lost six games by a combined 42 points.

2. The Eagles’ midfielders lowered their colours last week losing the clearances 42-30, the contested possessions 162-128, and the tackle count 83-51. Matt Priddis’ return should help their case in tight around the contest.

3. While most visiting teams struggle at Domain Stadium, Carlton has won 38% of their games played at the venue. Silver linings, right?

4. Another week, another bag for Josh Kennedy. The two-time reigning Coleman Medallist is averaging five goals a game since his return from a calf injury, and now only two goals, Joe Daniher and his filthy moustache stand between the big forward and his third Coleman.

5. When you are fighting for a finals spot, the last thing you need is to finish off the season against quality teams. For the Eagles, however, that is exactly the position they find themselves in. Saturday night is a must-win, with GWS and Adelaide to finish off the home-and-away season.

MOST AT STAKE FOR… Josh Kennedy.

Team success is all well and good. However, it is not often that someone wins three Coleman Medals in a row, especially after missing five games through injury. With GWS and Adelaide to come, Kennedy should be looking to cash in against the struggling Blues.

TIP: West Coast by 38.

SECOND TIP: Josh Kennedy kicks 10.