Where and when: MCG, Saturday, April 6, 7.25pm AEDT
Last time they met: MCG, Grand Final, 2018: West Coast 11.13 (79) defeated Collingwood 11.8 (74)
In an epic, seesawing decider, the Magpies kicked the first five goals before the Eagles slowly clawed their way back and ultimately claimed their fourth premiership after Dom Sheed slotted one the great Grand Final goals. Teammate Luke Shuey was awarded the Norm Smith Medal.
What it means for Collingwood: If a comprehensive win over Richmond last week didn’t already show the Pies will again be a formidable opponent this season, a victory over the reigning premier will absolutely confirm it.
What it means for West Coast: Knocking off the hot Pies at the MCG for the third time in succession would not only establish a psychological advantage but dispel any concerns about a premiership hangover.
How Collingwood wins: The Pies are a more rounded side since they played in the Grand Final with Darcy Moore and Jordan Roughead capable of handling the Eagles’ tall forwards, while the inclusion of Dayne Beams and the Eagles’ loss of ruckman Scott Lycett could swing the midfield battle.
How West Coast wins: Premiership heroes Shuey and Sheed have continued to build momentum and at the very least should ensure the Pies’ runners are made accountable, while the development of Oscar Allen has added another prong to the Eagles’ attack.
The stat: The Eagles have won their past three games against Collingwood, two of them at the MCG after giving up considerable starts.
The match-up: Jack Darling v Darcy Moore
Darling (ranked No. 106 in the Official AFL Player Ratings) bagged a game-high four goals in the big win over Greater Western Sydney last round and is likely to be opposed by a primed Moore (No. 330), who has been a superb addition to a previously undersized defence.
It’s a big week for: Brody Mihocek
The Magpies key forward will have his hands full combatting brilliant Eagles defender Jeremy McGovern, a rebounding specialist who zones off to intercept or mark as the third man in. Mihocek was in good form in the win over Richmond and will need to make McGovern accountable and not allow him to mark at will.
Big call: The three most influential players will be Pies who didn’t play in last year’s Grand Final: Darcy Moore, Dayne Beams and Jamie Elliott.
Thommo’s Tip: Pies by 8 points
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