Emma Payne
Emma is a sports enthusiast with extensive knowledge and experience in the industry. She is a sports presenter at 91.3 Sport FM reporting on sporting news from around the world, with an emphasis on Australian sport.

One of the biggest AFL games on the WA calendar is almost upon us!

ATT: People of Perth. The game that divides the state is coming up and if you haven’t already, it’s time to pick whose side you’re on. The Fremantle Dockers host the West Coast Eagles for the 46th Western Derby, which takes place on Sunday at Domain Stadium. As if Freo and Eagles supporters don’t give each other enough grief during the season, the sledges, meme tagging and banter will increase by about a thousand percent between now and Sunday. And if you’re not a fan of AFL (for some weird reason), just a little warning to prepare yourselves, you will be surrounded by footy fever this weekend!

The West Coast Eagles are currently sitting just outside of the top eight on the AFL ladder, after a 32-point loss to Port Adelaide on home turf last weekend. I have some good news though to take the sting off… JOSH KENNEDY IS BACK!!! The duel Coleman Medallist finally returns to the side after a calf/Achilles injury, and will be welcomed back with open arms. Along with JK, the Eagles have also included Will Schofield, Chris Masten, Jack Redden, Thomas Cole, and Jackson Nelson to their 25-man squad to face Freo. They come in for Malcolm Karpany, who is out with a quad complaint, Eric Mackenzie, who is out after injuring his hamstring and an omitted Sharrod Wellingham.

The Fremantle Dockers will be coming into this week on a high after a 4-point win over the Kangaroos last week at Etihad Stadium. They had suffered a couple of close losses prior to last week’s game, so they will be buzzing after returning to the winners list. Coach Ross Lyon has included Lee Spurr, David Mundy, Josh Deluca and Sam Collins back into the 25-man squad this week, while Tommy Sheridan is out with a hamstring injury. Ryan Nyhuis had an epic debut last week when he was bumped up from emergency to replace a sick David Mundy, the Peel Thunder defender kicked four goals! His first kick in AFL was a goal, and he also sealed the deal for Fremantle with his final goal of the game.

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This will (almost certainly) be the last Western Derby to be played at Domain Stadium, as construction of the new Perth Stadium is set to be complete by the start of the 2018 season. The Eagles have won four consecutive derbies to lead the total tally 25-20 however, Fremantle will come into this one with momentum from last week, and I think their young side will have the belief and the confidence that they can get over the line. It’s a Fremantle Dockers home game so the stands will be filled with purple, and we all know how much a home crowd can help to lift a team. Another thing that can lift a team- the return of a star forward! Can the return of JK fire the Eagles up enough to redeem them after last week?

I think it’s going to be an exciting game – and hopefully a close one. That’s just the way I like a Western Derby! Andrew Gaff has been a disposal MACHINE for West Coast, and Jack Darling has really stepped up in the forward line in JK’s absence. Brownlow Medallist Nat Fyfe was almost back to his best last week for the Dockers, and midfielders such as Lachie Neale, Bradley and Stephen Hill and the pocket rocket Michael Walters have all been in exciting form.

I’m tipping the Fremantle Dockers to beat the West Coast Eagles by 10 points!

Let us know your #AFLFreoEagles predictions at @TweetPerth @EmmaPaynes

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