In what will be the only Derby for Season 2020, Derby 51 between Fremantle and West Coast looks set to be a classic with both sides returning to Perth on the back of four weeks on the Gold Coast hub with a 2-2 Record.
A spot in the 8 is within reach in a unique season of football, and this should typify how important this match is.
But there are problems on each side of the state with injuries and omissions.
Sunday Evening – Fremantle VS West Coast at Optus Stadium – 4:05PM
The headline story going into this match was the ruling out of Fremantle’s skipper Nat Fyfe, and that only grows the Dockers injury and form problems some of their players have suffered.
Over the week he had a scan on his troublesome hamstring despite playing most of last week’s win against St Kilda in the forward line.
Coach Justin Longmuir was “not overly confident” that Fyfe would play and the training session on Thursday proved the Coach’s sentiments – Fyfe would not play.
No Fyfe, No Hogan, No Hambling, No Louge, the Dockers backline will again be going small, and while they have speed inside the defensive 50 it’s risky against an Eagles Forward line led by Darling and Kennedy but also bristling with youngsters Jake Waterman and the in-form Oscar Allen.
West Coast on the other hand are keeping most of their players that won against Adelaide at the Gabba last week, but the big return is their skipper Luke Shuey after spending a couple of games out with a troublesome hamstring.
He forms a big part of the Eagles Engine room, and will join Yeo, Gaff and Kelly as their core on ballers against a Dockers midfield that is yearning with youth who have improved in form over the last week or two.
These youngsters are players like Brayshaw and Tucker and that’s who the Eagles must target in order to dominate the centre clearance count which is what they did against the Crows 13-4.
One player in the spotlight will be making his debut and no better stage to play your first game then in a Western Derby.
Michael Fredrick is built like a unit and has a good positive attitude on the track and that’s what impressed coach Longmuir.
The 61st pick in the National Draft last year and the twin brother of Martin Fredrick – the Port Adelaide Rookie – will be aiming to take his chance with two hands and is prepared for what he calls a ‘baptism of fire’.
Fremantle- IN: Cox, Fredrick – OUT: Fyfe, Young
West Coast- IN: Shuey – OUT: Ainsworth
THE DERBY KEY:
Sunday’s Western Derby aims to be a beauty and with both their teams finding form when it was needed in this shortened season, what is going to be the major factor in this game is the tactics of the engine room – the midfield battles.
The Dockers will need to be at their best against this Eagles on-baller unit, as it surges on the back of Nic Naitanui’s deadly taps.
Work on the stoppages will be vital so Darcy and Lobb will be charged with playing aggressively at the body while battling for the ball.
What will be vital for the Eagles will be taking away the easy uncontested marks, they have been far more aggressive with their defence in finding their opponent in the come forward defence while pressurising the ball carrier.
This has been effective for the Eagles in the past two weeks and will need to continue on Sunday.
The Dockers will go in motivated but if you look at all the names missing from their best 22 its going to be a hard task, the Eagles have got young players in form like Allen & Barrass who can deliver the ball to attack.
For me West Coast will light up Optus Stadium in yellow and take out their tenth Derby in a row.
Tip – West Coast By 38 Points
Glendinning-Allan Medal: Tim Kelly (WCE)