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Western Derby 49: West Coast v Fremantle Match Preview

West Coast Eagles v Fremantle Dockers 6:10pm (AWST) Saturday 13th of April.

West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers will line up for Western Derby 49 after both coming off wins and sitting with 2 wins 1 loss on the season.

Key Talking Points

  • Is Fremantle a finals team?
  • Will Fremantle be too Gaff focussed?
  • Who will carry the workload in the Fremantle midfield with Fyfe out?
  • Can West Coast forwards be stopped?

What happened when they met in 2018:

  • Round 20: West Coast 21.16 (142) – Fremantle 13.6 (84) – @Optus Stadium
  • Round 6: Fremantle 12.9 (81) – West Coast 13.11 (89) @MCG

Fremantle Finals Contenders…

After their big win against North Melbourne, the Purple Army fans were singing loud and proud. The pressure, the ball skills, the run and carry and not to mention the number of goals kicked. Fremantle was off to a flier in 2019.

The next two games however provided a different story.

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Even though North Melbourne are tipped to be non-factors in 2019 the big win was followed by a loss to a wooden spoon candidate Gold Coast, then backed up with a close call against St Kilda who is also tipped to finish towards the bottom of the ladder.

So which Fremantle is the real Fremantle?

Fremantle isn’t a top 8 team just yet, relying heavily on slingshot football which is played off the back of teams making mistakes – which the good sides don’t do as often.

Saturday though should provide a good measuring stick as Fremantle will verse their first opponent for 2019 who finished in the top 8 in the 2018 season.

On the other side, you have West Coast who started off the season with a less than inspiring game against a young and hot starting Brisbane Lions.

West Coast then got back to work and got their season back on track beating GWS and then sent a message to the rest of the league with yet another win over Collingwood at the MCG – putting West Coast as flag favourites for many footy experts.

Gaff Focus

The media has been hyping up the reunion of Gaff and Brayshaw for the first time in the AFL season (excluding JLT), but it’s not so much the Gaff/Brayshaw reunion that should raise concern it’s whether his Fremantle teammates will be too focused on getting under Gaff’s skin.

This could work either way, it could make Gaff have a terrible game, or it will distract Fremantle players from their individual roles allowing West Coast to take full advantage.

Fremantle’s midfield to face biggest challenge

Fyfe, is arguably the best player in the competition, losing his grunt and class in the midfield would be a big loss for any team – not to mention a team that is already low on midfield stocks with the loss of Neale.

Then to make matters worse they will be going up against a West Coast unit which is coming off the back of a game where they schooled Collingwood’s midfield – arguably the best midfield in the game.

It will be hard to see how Fremantle will be able to stop West Coast precise ball use and run through the midfield and then at the same time be able to launch attacks into their own forward line.

West Coast power attack

Kennedy and Darling added another game to their unbeaten streak. They are now undefeated when they play together in 2 games for 2019 and all of 2018 when they lined up together.

Then you add into the fold a young star in Allen and Fremantle are going to have their hands full trying to just stop the West Coast talls, with another eye on figuring out how to minimise the impact of the smalls in Cripps and Ryan.

The verdict

While anything can happen in a derby with both teams often rising to new levels – West Coast will be too strong across the ground and Fremantle will lack the skill, composure and firepower to outscore West Coast.

West Coast by 35pts

Feature image: Twitter | @westcoasteagles

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