Where and when: Marvel Stadium, Sunday, March 28, 3.20pm AEDT (12.20pm AWST)
TV: Live on 7, Fox Footy and Kayo
Last time we met: Western Bulldogs 6.13 (49) def. West Coast 7.5 (47) at Metricon Stadium, round 16, 2020
Dogs superstar Marcus Bontempelli broke Eagle hearts with his controversial long-range goal – which was arguably touched on the line by Jeremy McGovern – putting his team ahead in the dying stages of a two-point win. The loss proved costly for West Coast, with the club falling percentage short of the top four, despite bouncing back and notching victories in the final two rounds of the season.
What it means for the Eagles: Wins on the road are never easy, especially against quality opposition, and as coach Adam Simpson mentioned during his weekly media conference the Bulldogs are a genuine top-four contender. Sunday’s game will be an early test to see where the Eagles are at.
The stat: The Bulldogs’ engine room is stacked with talent and they dominated Collingwood’s heralded onball brigade in round one, helping their side win the disposal count by a massive 151 possessions.
The match-up: Tom Barrass v Aaron Naughton
Barrass was immense during the round one victory over Gold Coast, hauling in 13 marks – three of them contested – while making sure emerging Suns gun Ben King never got off the leash. He will face another of the competition’s most exciting young key forwards in Naughton, who booted two majors and took seven grabs against Collingwood, and is capable of being a difference-maker if his side’s dangerous midfield gets on top.
It’s a big week for: Jack Redden
The Eagles may not tag Bontempelli, but they may ask a ‘cooler’ to keep an eye on the Bulldogs skipper and that man could be Redden, who has all the physical attributes and nous to do the job. Whether putting the brakes on ‘The Bont’ will be enough in a midfield also boasting Adam Treloar, Bailey Smith, Josh Dunkley, Jack Macrae, Lachie Hunter and Tom Liberatore is debatable, and the Eagles may back their system instead.
Big call: Human highlights reel Liam Ryan has eight goals from three visits to Marvel Stadium (plus an epic mark running back with the flight) and we are backing him to spearhead a nailbiting victory with an equal career-high four majors on Sunday.