First Elimination Final Preview: Port Adelaide v West Coast

WHERE: Adelaide Oval, Saturday, September 9, 5.50pm AWST

THE LAST FIVE
R16, 2017: Port Adelaide 18.12 (120) def West Coast 13.10 (88) at Domain Stadium
R7, 2017: West Coast 15.7 (97) def Port Adelaide 12.15 (87) at Adelaide Oval
R9, 2016: West Coast 14.10 (94) def Port Adelaide 13.8 (86) at Adelaide Oval
R6, 2015: West Coast 11.12 (78) def Port Adelaide 10.6 (68) at Adelaide Oval
R5, 2014: Port Adelaide 10.10 (70) def West Coast 7.14 (56) at Domain Stadium

OVERVIEW

It’s been two very different roads to September for Port Adelaide and West Coast. The Power finished the year strongly with three-straight wins to cement a home final in week one. On the other hand, West Coast narrowly edged out Melbourne to sneak into eight spot on percentage alone.

Port Adelaide hasn’t played finals football since 2014, so Ken Hinkley’s men will be eager to impress on the big stage. For West Coast, the memory of last year’s humiliating 47-point loss to the Western Bulldogs should be all the motivation they need.

The Eagles have struggled to get supply to their potent forwards this year. Which team have they struggled against the most? Port Adelaide. While the teams may have split their two games so far this year, Port Adelaide has smashed West Coast 128 to 81 in inside-50s. The Eagles’ midfield will need to be working overtime to overcome Paddy Ryder’s influence around the contest.

TALKING POINTS

1. Is Luke Shuey the most underrated player in the AFL? The reigning John Worsfold Medallist currently sits 16th in the Schick AFL Player Ratings, just seven places behind Port Adelaide’s Robbie Gray.

2. Paddy Ryder dominated West Coast back in round 16. The All-Australian ruckman finished with 17 touches, 39 hit-outs and two goals. Can Drew Petrie and Nathan Vardy make a contest this week?

3. West Coast has a fantastic record at Adelaide Oval, having won five of their six games at the venue. The Eagles were successful against Port in round seven at the venue, and they’ll need to be at their best in front of a hostile Adelaide Oval crowd to do it again.

4. While the Eagles may have an impressive record at Adelaide Oval, the city hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the big birds during finals time. West Coast has managed just one win from four finals in Adelaide, with their only victory a stunning come-from-behind win back in the 2006 Preliminary Final.

5. Jack Darling will play his 150th game in the blue and gold on Saturday night. While life membership is a fantastic achievement for the versatile forward, he’ll need to be at his dynamic best with Josh Kennedy destined to get some close attention from Port’s backline.

MOST AT STAKE FOR… Brad Sheppard.

Brad Sheppard has flown under the radar once again for West Coast. For keen observers, however, the lively small defender has put together another fantastic year for West Coast. Sheppard was crucial in the Eagles’ victory back in round seven, holding Robbie Gray to just 15 touches and no goals. If Sheppard can stop Gray again, the Eagles might just steal this one.

TIP: West Coast by 8.

SECOND TIP: Jeremy McGovern takes 10 intercept marks.