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Match preview: Eagles v Bombers

Callum Twomey, AFL.com.au  May 17, 2017 9:00 AM

AFL 2016 Rd 15 - West Coast v Essendon

West Coast cruised to a 78-point win over Essendon at Domain Stadium last year

SUMMARY
West Coast hasn't put a foot wrong since its terrible loss to Hawthorn in round five at the MCG. The Eagles smashed Fremantle the following week, headed to Adelaide after that and disposed of Port Adelaide, and then last week overcame the Western Bulldogs in a tough affair at Domain Stadium. They will come to Melbourne looking to make a point against the Bombers, who returned to the winners' list last week with the best performance of their season – a 17-point win over Geelong where they dominated the game. West Coast's hard-running and multi-faceted midfield unit will again be key for the Eagles in their quest to notch their seventh win of the season and entrench themselves in the top four. But Essendon is on its home deck and will be hoping its fleet of small forwards and improved chemistry across the field can steer it to a victory to go to 5-4 and stick with the competition's finals hopefuls.

WHERE AND WHEN: Etihad Stadium, Sunday, May 21, 11.10pm AWST

LAST FIVE TIMES
R15, 2016, West Coast Eagles 20.10 (130) d Essendon 7.10 (52) at Domain Stadium
R11, 2015, West Coast Eagles 14.12 (96) d Essendon 6.10 (46) at Domain Stadium
R21, 2014, Essendon 11.11 (77) d West Coast Eagles 11.8 (74) at Etihad Stadium
R20, 2013, West Coast Eagles 18.12 (120) d Essendon 9.13 (67) at Etihad Stadium
R14, 2013, Essendon 15.8 (98) d West Coast Eagles 13.13 (91) at Domain Stadium 

THE SIX POINTS
1. Essendon and West Coast clash for the 51st time and the Bombers hold the overall advantage, winning 27 games to 23. The Eagles have won three of the past four, including the past two by a combined 128 points. 

2. There's not much difference between the sides in terms of scoring this season. West Coast has kicked 111 goals and Essendon has registered 106. Both teams have four players who have kicked more than 10 goals. 

3. The Bombers continue to struggle taking the ball inside 50, being ranked 16th in the competition, and they have lost the inside-50 count in all eight games.

4. West Coast will enter the game as the dominant side in the air. They have been strong for contested marking so far this season, claiming on average 13.8 a game. The Eagles are also ranked equal eighth for marks inside-50.  

5. In Essendon's favour is its impressive record against West Coast at Etihad Stadium, where it has won 10 of 13 games against the Eagles. The clubs haven't played there in a game since 2014.

6. Elliot Yeo's superb start to the year hasn't seen him push too far up the Schick AFL Player Ratings board just yet. The talented Eagle started the year ranked No.159 and is at 147 after eight rounds.  

IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR … Michael Hurley.
Hurley has held up the Bombers' backline in recent weeks, but could face a huge task this weekend if he faces up against West Coast star Josh Kennedy. The two-time Coleman medallist has booted 27 goals this year and is in hot form.