Where and when: Optus Stadium, Friday April 19, 6.10pm AWST
Last time they met: Adelaide Oval, round 21, 2018: Port Adelaide 9.4 (58) lost to West Coast 9.8 (62)
Lightning struck twice when Eagles defender Jeremy McGovern went forward and marked in the dying seconds before repeating Luke Shuey’s elimination final heroics by converting a match-winning goal after the siren. Shuey (31 disposals) and new Power co-captain Ollie Wines (27) were the standouts.
What it means for West Coast: Defending Optus Stadium, where they have a 10-3 record against interstate sides, is pivotal for the Eagles’ hopes of a top-four finish and, after three-straight wins, they have the chance to gather serious momentum.
What it means for Port Adelaide: A chance to silence their critics and, perhaps, their own doubts after a surprise loss to a severely-undermanned Richmond at Adelaide Oval erased memories of a bright start to the season.
How West Coast wins: Match the Power in the contest and the Eagles should have the artillery up forward to get the job done. West Coast is on a 16-0 run with Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling in the line-up, with the twin towers coming off three goals each in the Western Derby.
How Port Adelaide wins: By playing with speed and dare from half-back that was on show in a thrilling round one win over Melbourne. Port has to isolate the Eagles defenders and put them under pressure, like Fremantle did. Unlike the Dockers, the Power need to finish their work.
The stat: These clubs have built quite the rivalry in recent times, with six of the past nine encounters decided by 10 points or fewer – five of them in the Eagles’ favour.
Vardy arguably eclipsed Lycett during last year’s finals series when the West Coast premiership big men worked in tandem to quell the influence of Brodie Grundy twice and Max Gawn. But Lycett has enjoyed an outstanding start at Port, climbing from the 17th best ruckman to 14th in AFL Player Ratings, while Vardy has slid from 15th to 17th. How Lycett and Paddy Ryder (No.4) perform against Vardy and Tom Hickey (19) could be decisive.
It’s a big week for: Mark Hutchings (West Coast)
It has been a long journey over seven seasons to reach 100 games and Mark Hutchings deserves to savour the moment on Good Friday. His reinvention as a tagger was crucial in the Eagles’ run to the premiership and he is finally receiving some recognition after excellent jobs on Stephen Coniglio, Scott Pendlebury and Michael Walters this year.
Big call: Tom Hickey to keep putting pressure on Nathan Vardy for the back-up spot when Nic Naitanui returns by being the most influential ruckman around the ground.
Mottsy’s Tip: Eagles by 60 points
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