Digby’s Western Derby Preview

West Coast v Fremantle

Saturday, 5.40pm Domain Stadium

The 43rd derby shapes as big one. Yes, they are all big and the build-up to each tussle immense, but there is an extra sense of importance about this contest. Embarrassed by Hawthorn for the second time in six months last weekend, West Coast need to respond and prove they deserve to be rated among the competition’s elite. As for Fremantle, they need a win to prove they are worthy of being regarded top-eight prospects.

Games are won and lost in the midfield and both sides will place a premium on their efficiency inside the centre square. Hawthorn were able to nullify Nic Naitanui’s link up with his midfielders and that set the tone. The Dockers simply leaked possession and goals because of their deficiencies at the centre bounces, leaving their normally reliable defence badly exposed. The battle between Matt Priddis, Luke Shuey, Andrew Gaff, Jack Redden and co. against Nat Fyfe, David Mundy, Lachie Neale and Stephen Hill among others is crucial.

Fremantle’s lack of leg speed has been highlighted in the first two weeks and it would seem foolish on Ross Lyon’s behalf to want to get into a shootout with West Coast, who can be extremely slick and effective on their home deck. Factor in the firepower forward of centre the Eagles possess and it is a game West Coast fans should be expecting to win.

VERDICT: West Coast by 23 points

Ross Glendinning Medalist: Jack Redden

1st Goal Scorer: Mark LeCras

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