A rematch of last year’s Grand Final takes blockbuster round 16 status as the Collingwood Magpies travel to Optus Stadium in a bid to end the current four match losing streak that the West Coast Eagles hold over them.
A little over two months ago the Eagles held a 3-3 record, were ranked bottom four in the league is disposals and points, and there were serious questions marks about a premiership hangover derailing any chance of a successful 2019.
Fast forward two plus months and with the Eagles having won eight of their last nine matches, not only would victory this week further establish a psychological advantage over the Magpies, but also (with three more home games remaining), all but confirm a top-two end of season ranking.
While the Eagles have gone from strength to strength recently, the Magpies (over the past five weeks) have spluttered to a 2-3 record with their premiership odds in that time having almost doubled.
Have rival clubs finally developed a defensive strategy to combat Collingwood’s high possession tally? If the scoreboard is anything to go, that answer is a resounding yes, as the Magpies, who scored above 100 points five of their first nine games this year have achieved that total zero times since.
Players to watch: Last year’s Norm Smith medallist Luke Shuey (EAG) looms again as a midfield catalyst. His nine inside 50s when these two teams played earlier in the year resulted directly in five scoring shots.
It wouldn’t surprise to see Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury go toe-to-toe with the Eagles’ prime ball winner knowing that in the last two contests, Shuey has been one of the main reasons between winning and losing.
Stat Attack: Five of the last six H2H matches have seen a winning margin for either team less than 22 points.
Teams sitting in 2nd spot on the ladder (ala West Coast) have won just four of 14 games this year.
Last week Collingwood had 1,420 games of experience on the injury list (the most in the competition) the Eagles just 272 (second lowest).
In the last 12 months Elliot Yeo has laid 180 tackles, 17 more than any other player.
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