Where and when: Optus Stadium, Friday July 12, 6.10pm AWST
What it means for West Coast: It’s the proverbial ‘eight-point game’ for the Eagles, who could tighten their grip on second spot and move two wins clear of one of their rivals.
What it means for Collingwood: A chance to put the brakes on the runaway train the season is fast becoming after three losses in five games. Upsetting West Coast in Perth would relieve the building pressure.
The stat: West Coast has won the past four clashes – three of them at the MCG – by an average of 19.5 points. The Pies haven’t kicked more than 11 goals in any of those games.
The match-up: Nic Naitanui v Brodie Grundy.
Looms as the decisive battle. The impact Naitanui (No.281 in Official AFL Player Ratings) has on West Coast is hard to quantify, but the Eagles booted more than half their score from stoppages in the Western Derby and have dominated clearances since his return. Grundy (No.3) is arguably the game’s best ruckman, and averages 20.7 disposals – more than double Naitanui (10) – while he has a slight edge in hit out to advantage percentage (30.7 to 28.1).
It’s a big week for: Mason Cox
The giant American is under the pump and has only kicked 15 goals and taken 45 marks from 10 games in a side that is struggling to hit the scoreboard. Cox will have his work cut out against Tom Barrass with Jeremy McGovern coming across to help when he can, but the Pies need him to lift with the side averaging just 72.5 points – 15th in the AFL – in the past six games.
Big call: Eagles spearhead Josh Kennedy to return fresh from a weekend off and drill a season-best five goals.
Mottsy’s Tip: Eagles by 20 points
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