Where and when: Optus Stadium, Sunday June 2, 3.20pm AWST
Last time they met: Optus Stadium, round 18, 2018: West Coast 14.16 (100) defeated Western Bulldogs 6.10 (46)
Life without Nic Naitanui after his second ACL rupture started comfortably for the Eagles, who set up victory with their best first quarter of the season – a six-goal-to-two term. Andrew Gaff polled top Brownlow votes for his 35 touches.
What it means for West Coast: The Eagles have set their season up after another memorable victory at Adelaide Oval and can keep pace in the top-four race with a fifth straight victory.
What it means for Western Bulldogs: It’s impossible to trust the Dogs at the moment but their best is still dangerous and if they can register an upset in Perth it will revive a flagging season.
How West Coast wins: With plenty of firepower up front, the Eagles just need to give their forwards – led by Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling and Jamie Cripps coming off three goals each – enough supply to kick a winning score.
How Western Bulldogs win: They will need something special from a talented midfield brigade and emerging star Aaron Naughton in attack to put the reigning premiers’ stingy defence under pressure.
The stat: The Dogs claimed victory only once on their past 13 trips west – the famous 2016 elimination final upset of the Eagles – and have lost all three of their games at Optus Stadium by 54, 54 and 19 points.
The match-up: Will Schofield v Aaron Naughton
Schofield’s rank of 45th-best key backman in the AFL, according to the Official Player Ratings, undersells him. The veteran held Taylor Walker scoreless last round and can help West Coast go a long way to victory if he can restrict Naughton, the 24th-best forward who is rising fast.
It’s a big week for: Luke Beveridge
The Dogs have been one of the most frustrating teams, showing they are capable of beating Richmond and Brisbane but then losing to Carlton, Gold Coast and North Melbourne. Beveridge needs to inspire his underdogs to at least push the Eagles and get some momentum back in their season.
Father Dougal’s Tip: Eagles by 30 points.
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