Where and when: GMHBA Stadium, Sunday April 28, 4.40pm AEST
Last time they met: Optus Stadium, round three, 2018: West Coast 14.11 (95) defeated Geelong 11.14 (80)
The Cats skipped 15 points clear at the 17-minute mark of the final term before the Eagles’ floodgate opened, kicking six goals in a blistering final 10 minutes. The Cats finished with three players on the bench through injury – Gary Ablett, Cameron Guthrie and Nakia Cockatoo.
What it means for Geelong: Another legitimate scalp. The Cats have knocked off three finalists from last year in the opening five rounds but beating the Eagles would prove they’re a proper contender.
What it means for West Coast: A chance for the midfield to respond. The Eagles have lost the contested possession count in all five games this season, including by 29 and 21 in their two losses. Ranked seventh for contested possession differential last year, the Eagles are 18th this season.
How Geelong wins: Quick ball movement into the front half. Port Adelaide provided the blueprint last week by keeping the Eagles’ interceptors out of the contest with a variety of forward entries.
How West Coast wins: Make the Geelong defenders defend. Hawthorn was able to do it for much of the first half on Easter Monday before wayward ball movement and slow entries allowed the Cats’ defensive structure to pick off entries at will.
The stat: Despite being ranked 14th in the competition for inside 50s, the Cats are the highest-scoring team after round five, averaging 97 points per game compared to the Eagles’ 76.4.
The match-up: Mark Hutchings v Patrick Dangerfield
The No.1 player in the Official AFL Player Ratings, Dangerfield has received attention from Matt de Boer and Daniel Howe in the past two weeks. With Hutchings’ usual target Joel Selwood playing more on a wing this season, expect Adam Simpson to send him Dangerfield’s way.
It’s a big week for: Nathan Vardy
Returns to his former home with a big task alongside Tom Hickey against Rhys Stanley. Vocal in the lead-up to last year’s Grand Final about the love he had received from the Eagles’ coaches in three seasons compared to seven years at the Cats. Time to put the talking into action.
Father Dougals’s Tip: Geelong by 20. Home field advantage will be too much
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