We venture over to Perth to take a look at the 2015 Runners Up, the West Coast Eagles.
Pre-Season Prediction: 2nd
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Current Position: 8th
Top four Odds: $6 (via TopSport)
Forecast: Narrowly missing out on the top four
Based on a pretty successful 2015 season for the Eagles, I had them replicating that and finishing in the top two this year, it hasn’t happened as yet, but to be fair they’re only a game away from second spot, showing how tight the top eight is at the moment.
The story of the season so far for West Coast has been good form at home and poor form away from Subiaco, with four of their five losses coming interstate. Shortly before the bye, their fortress became unhinged as Adelaide came away with a 29-point win. They looked to rectified that loss with a big win over Essendon last week, but hosting North Melbourne on Sunday afternoon will prove whether that Adelaide game was a just a slip up or something more.
Lets take a look at what has worked and what hasn’t for West Coast.
What’s Gone Right
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s the case with the Eagles’ scoring power so far this season. Last season, they were the number two scoring team in the competition with an average of 14.9 goals a game. This year, that average is up, at 15.4 per cent, but they find themselves behind GWS and Adelaide as the best scoring teams in the comp.
Their average winning margin at home is around 60 points, so that’s where these stats mostly stem from. Led by Josh Kennedy, West Coast have a brilliant forward setup that rivals that of Adelaide’s. Jack Darling and Mark LeCras aren’t bad players to have as secondary forward options. West Coast’s percentage of 134.80 is better than the three teams above them, so a slip up from those sides will catapult the Eagles right back into top four contention.
What’s Gone Wrong
They’re not getting their hands on the ball as much as would like. Averaging 357 disposals a game, this is the fourth worst in the competition. It mainly stems from their poor performances away from home where they are completed dominated in terms of possession. In these games West Coast struggle to get first use of the ball which is crucial to in order to get the ball to their potent forward line.
Interstate, West Coast have only won two of six matches with an average losing margin of almost six goals. They’re also really struggling against top eight sides, having yet to register a win. They play two more top eight teams at home in North Melbourne and Hawthorn which possibly gives them the chance to record a few wins against the league’s top teams.
Josh Kennedy has been in outstanding form this year, kicking 49 goals from 14 games so far in 2016. The reigning Coleman Medallist has backed up his solid 2015 form and is well on track to surpass the 80 goals he kicked last season.
Kennedy is also averaging a career high 13.9 disposals a game, but his efficiency at goal can still let him down, but that’s something he can work in years to come. With a solid three years behind him with one more to come, I think West Coast have got the better of the Judd-Kennedy deal.
Lewis Jetta was the big signing in the 2015 off-season but hasn’t lived up to expectations. He’s been dropped a couple of times this year for poor performance and is facing a battle to stay in the side.
Jack Redden has played every game, but hasn’t been able to reach the heights he hit at the Lions, averaging only 17 disposals a game. Jonathan Giles has featured on just the one occasion, while draftee Tom Cole has played a coupe of games and looks promising, being a no. 36 pick.
Second Half Expectations
At 9-5, West Coast have a relatively easy run-in, with games against GWS, Adelaide, Hawthorn and North Melbourne being their only question marks.
They should record wins against Carlton, Melbourne, Collingwood and Fremantle. I’ll give them six wins taking them to 15-7. It’ll take them to 60 points and that may be enough to get them into the top four giving their percentage stays healthy.