Published By Michael Whiting, 21 August 2018 on afl.com.au
The entire home-and-away season comes down to four quarters for West Coast, which can lock up a top-two spot with a victory over the much-improved Lions on Sunday. Despite losing to Melbourne at the weekend, Adam Simpson’s men have secured a top-four position and double chance in the finals, but it can be so much better with four more premiership points. The Eagles have had a fantastic season but will make the tricky trip east without leading lights Josh Kennedy, Nic Naitanui and Andrew Gaff, ensuring it’s no easy task. Brisbane has won just five games this season, but with another five losses of seven points or fewer, the Lions have been one of the competition’s big improvers. They’ve troubled most teams at the Gabba, with midfield aces Dayne Beams and Dayne Zorko receiving outstanding support from second-season dynamos Hugh McCluggage and Jarrod Berry. Despite their injury woes, West Coast have vowed to “throw the kitchen sink” at the Lions. Don’t be surprised if the home team plays spoiler, but the consistent Eagles deserve slight favouritism.
WHERE AND WHEN: the Gabba, Sunday, August 26, 1.10pm AEST
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
R19, 2017, West Coast 17.11 (113) d Brisbane Lions 6.9 (45) at Subiaco Oval
R13, 2016, West Coast 20.11 (131) d Brisbane Lions 12.10 (82) at the Gabba
R1, 2016, West Coast 26.10 (166) d Brisbane Lions 15.12 (102) at Subiaco Oval
R4, 2015, West Coast 17.16 (118) d Brisbane Lions 9.11 (65) at the Gabba
R17, 2014, West Coast 11.10 (76) d Brisbane Lions 9.10 (64) at the Gabba
THE SIX POINTS
1. Josh Kennedy was the star when the sides last played with 16 disposals, nine marks and six goals. Andrew Gaff was the best of the Eagles onballers with 30 touches, four inside 50s and four clearances.
2. The Eagles are ranked fourth for scoring this season kicking 91 points a game, but the Lions have also scored consistently in 2018 with an average of 83 points.
3. West Coast has dominated Brisbane recently, winning the past seven matches, including four by more than 50 points. Brisbane has won just two of 10 at the Gabba in 2018, while West Coast has won six of nine matches interstate.
4. The Eagles are the lowest disposal team inside the top eight, and 17th overall averaging 357 a game. Brisbane is 12th for disposals with an average of 372.5.
5. The Lions are no stranger to tight finishes this season, playing in six games decided by seven points or fewer, for just one win. West Coast has won both of its games decided by single figures.
6. Former Lion Jack Redden is having a brilliant comeback season for the Eagles. After starting 283rd overall in the Schick AFL Player Ratings, the West Coast midfielder has climbed to 136th – his highest mark since round nine, 2015.
IT’S A BIG WEEK FOR …
With a top-two spot on the line, West Coast and captain Shannon Hurn have everything to play for. Winning is the difference between a home final in week one – and possible passage to the Grand Final without leaving Perth – or a difficult first-up assignment in Melbourne.
PREDICTION: West Coast by 14 points