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West Coast Eagles

Match preview: Eagles v Dockers

MANDURAH, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 10 : Oscar Allen of the Eagles chases down the the ball in front of Joel Hamling of the Dockers during the 2019 JLT Community Series match between the Fremantle Dockers and the West Coast Eagles at Ruston Park on March 09, 2019 in Mandurah, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Media)
West Coast has won the past seven RAC Derbies

Where and when: Optus Stadium, Saturday April 13, 6.10pm AWST

Last time they met: Optus Stadium, round 20, 2018: West Coast 21.16 (142) defeated Fremantle 13.6 (84)

West Coast cruised to a seventh straight Western Derby victory but the contest will forever be remembered for Andrew Gaff's stunning hit which broke Andrew Brayshaw's jaw and ultimately cost the Eagles star a premiership medallion. Without needing to mind Nat Fyfe (hamstring), Elliot Yeo starred with 26 touches and two goals to claim the renamed Glendinning-Allan Medal.

What it means for West Coast: After an ordinary round one effort, the Eagles are rolling again and an eighth consecutive victory over Fremantle would lift them to 3-1 and provide a buffer ahead of a tough two weeks against Port Adelaide and Geelong.

What it means for Fremantle: There is pride on the line after a long Western Derby losing streak and after the events of the last clash but, looking at the bigger picture, an upset would give the Dockers' finals ambitions a major shot in the arm.

How West Coast wins: If the Eagles control the tempo and possession with their kick-mark style they will give their forwards plenty of opportunities and the Dockers could struggle to hit the scoreboard. 

How Fremantle wins: By playing like they did obliterating North Melbourne in round one. The Dockers have to take the game on, move the football with quick changes of direction and try to isolate the West Coast defenders one-on-one. 

The stat: The Eagles are unbeaten in 15 straight games with Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling in the line-up, stretching back to the 2017 semi-final loss to the Giants. 

The match-up: Michael Walters v Mark Hutchings/Brad Sheppard

Walters is the No.4-ranked mid-forward in the game, according to AFL Player Ratings, and leapfrogged Isaac Heeney after a blistering 27-disposal, two-goal effort against St Kilda. How the Eagles handle Freo's most dynamic player will be intriguing. Sheppard has traditionally done battle with Walters in attack, while Hutchings could lock onto the star Docker in midfield.

It's a big week for: Andrew Gaff

This one is self-explanatory. Gaff was sensational in his comeback from his eight-game suspension with 35 touches against Collingwood and will no doubt be keen to get his first Western Derby out of the way so he can get back to some normality. 

Big call: Jesse Hogan hasn't troubled the scorers in two games for Freo but the boom recruit will step up in his first Western Derby and slot at least three goals.

Prediction: Eagles by 21 points