Best in west prepare for AFL duel

West Coast will need to prepare for Fremantle with a fit-again Nat Fyfe as the two clubs prepare for the biggest western derby in recent memory.


On Sunday, the Eagles and Dockers meet for the first time as the AFL ladder’s top two with plenty on the line for both clubs.

For the Eagles, wins are needed to hold off fast finishers Hawthorn and claim a home qualifying final, while Ross Lyon’s side can put one hand on the minor premiership with success.

Thankfully the match doesn’t need hyping, as Lyon wasn’t interested in elevating the match beyond any other home and away match.

Lyon said he was no more eager to play the Eagles as he was St Kilda, Fremantle’s beaten opponents from Sunday.

“I’ve never really gotten caught up in the derby,” he said.

“What’s important is the state does (get caught up in it), the town does, all the media (do).

“Internally we need to stay focused.

“There’s four games to improve our footy and that’s just another one.”

Fremantle’s strong win over St Kilda on Sunday night confirmed a reversal of momentum between the two Western Australian sides.

Until a fortnight ago, West Coast were the league’s form team, with six straight wins.

Then came an action-packed draw on the Gold Coast and a reverse to Hawthorn, wobbling the Eagles surge to September.

Lyon’s side has backed up their own loss to the Hawks with four straight wins, the most impressive coming against the Saints.

Fremantle kicked 12 of the first 14 goals – including seven in a row from seven first-term marks inside 50 – before easing up on St Kilda.

While Lyon said Fyfe would be lining up after two weeks out with a calf injury, both teams will spend the week unsure of their best defensive options.

For the Eagles, Jeremy McGovern is a huge doubt after a hamstring injury, while Dockers veteran Luke McPharlin could also miss.

McPharlin was substituted with a calf injury against St Kilda and Lyon wasn’t prepared to rule him in or out.

“It’s corked, it’s serious enough that he might miss,” he said.

A ready-made replacement could be on hand with Michael Johnson due to return from a hamstring strain.

“The plan was to bring him back this week … we’ll decide whether it’s through (WAFL side) Peel or we bring him in,” Lyon said.

Eagles coach Adam Simpson could also miss Mark LeCras with his sloppy bump on Hawk James Frawley set for review and Nic Naitanui still on compassionate leave.

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