Where and when: Optus Stadium, Saturday May 4, 6.10pm AWST
Last time they met: Optus Stadium, round four, 2018: West Coast 21.13 (139) defeated Gold Coast 9.5 (59)
The Suns spent the week in Perth after selling a home game to Fremantle the previous week and were never in the contest against the red-hot Eagles. Returning spearhead Josh Kennedy bagged five goals, Elliot Yeo had 33 touches and earned three Brownlow votes.
What it means for West Coast: The Eagles are a shadow of last year’s premiership team and desperately need some confidence – as individuals and in their system – after losing 10 of their past 11 quarters to Fremantle, Port Adelaide and Geelong.
What it means for Gold Coast: Everyone expected the Suns to struggle this year and, after a 3-1 start, two beltings from the Crows and Lions appear to be a sign of things to come. Beating the Eagles in Perth would be a huge upset and restore faith they won’t become easybeats as the season drags on.
How West Coast wins: If they are anywhere near their best, the Eagles will have far too much class for the Suns. This is about the way they play. West Coast’s desire and workrate is under the microscope and, even if they win, anything less than a ferocious effort will raise more questions.
How Gold Coast wins: West Coast’s midfield has been smashed in consecutive weeks and if the Suns can bring a hard edge to the contest they could make it tough for the Eagles to score.
The stat: The Eagles have beaten the Suns by an average of 59 points in all seven clashes in Perth. Gold Coast’s only win over West Coast was by three points in 2017, and the clubs drew at Metricon Stadium in 2015.
The match-up: Tom Hickey v Jarrod Witts
Hickey was one of few Eagles who could hold their head high after the belting from Geelong. Despite copping a midfield hammering, the Eagles won the clearances 43-39, with Hickey extracting a dozen alone. West Coast’s onball brigade is underperforming and if Witts can kick-start the Suns it will go a long way to an upset.
It’s a big week for: Jack Darling
You could name about half West Coast’s team who need to step up but Darling is copping the brunt of fan fury. Putting aside the fact he has gone scoreless in consecutive full games for the first time since his debut season in 2011, the key forward has had minimal impact over the past month and needs to lift his intensity.
Thommo’s Tip: West Coast by 30 points.
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