Ten weeks ago, I would have said the round six clash between the West Coast Eagles and the NorthMelbourneKangaroos would be a hands down victory for the Eagles.
Im not saying that I don’t think the Eagles will win, because I still think that regardless of the opposition the Eagles will win just about every game at home, but its not so cut and dried as I thought it would be at the start of the pre season. A lot of things are different now then they were then. Sure, the Eagles are running well, unbeaten, at the top of the ladder, but the general consensus is that the five games they have played, against Hawthorn, Western Bulldogs, Richmond, Melbourne and Greater Western Sydney, sitting 11th, 13th, 14th, 16th and 18th respectively, haven’t really put them through their paces enough. The game against Hawthorn and Richmond were crackers, but the Eagles wont be satisfied until they test their might against a top eight, or even a top four team. That opportunity will come in the next two weeks, playingNorth Melbourne, Essendon, St Kilda and to a lesser extent Fremantle (despite the notorious difficulty of picking a winner in the derby).
The big difference between March and their May 6 round 6 clash would have to be the injuries. Mark LeCras, goal kicker, out for the season with a knee injury. Andrew Embley, goal kicker, out for at least another 10 weeks with a shoulder injury, Josh Kennedy, goal kicker, out for 12 with an ankle injury. Mark Nicoski, goal kicker, out for 10 with a hamstring injury. Throw in an 8-week knee for Bradd Dalziell, a 2-week eye injury for Mitch Brown and a 2-week Will Schofield suspension for good measure, and the Eagles might just be starting to get worried. The unfortunate thing for them is that their forward line has been decimated with long-term injuries as opposed to some quick fix injuries that would only require a handful of weeks of the sidelines. Given the sides they have been up against, it hasn’t had much of an impact yet, but as they come up against harder opposition, they’re going to want to have fingers and toes crossed that they don’t get anymore long term injuries to add to the list.
As I said earlier, I do not think the Eagles will lose this one. The Kangaroos might be buoyed by the injuries to key players, but West Coast at home is too hard to pass up. Mind you, if the weather stays on the course its on at the moment, it looks like its going to be a wet, windy game, and anybody can win in conditions like that.
My prediction: West Coast by 7.