West Coast have been by far the most impressive team in the 2012 competition after three rounds, with the Eagles soaring high and dominating all comers to date. They are yet to face a true test though having played the Western Bulldogs, Melbourne and newcomers Greater Western Sydney. A true test is what they will face this Saturday in the nation’s west when they go head to head with a quality Hawthorn side who have won two from three matches are running high on confidence after giving the Crows a frightful 56-point flogging on Sunday.
There is no doubt this West Coast team is talented but a big question mark still exists as to whether they can turn it on against quality outfits. It is clear there is plenty of points in the exciting and youthful lineup but their defence will get its first true hitout when they come up against a Hawthorn lineup that includes superstars Cyril Rioli and Buddy Franklin. Confident teams generally perform well but the Eagles need to be sure not to get too carried away as Hawthorn are far better than any side they have faced so far this year. In West Coast’s corner will be their passionate home fans who will turn out in numbers at Patersons Stadium on Saturday night.
The men in the brown and gold probably go into this weekend’s fixture more match-hardened after coming up against some quality opponents in the first three rounds. On the back of some excellent attack, they beat Collingwood in round 1 before losing by two points in a nail-biting clash to a star-studded Geelong outfit. They are frest off a confidence boosting victory over the Adelaide Crows where star midfielder Sam Mitchell was a shining light. Always terrific in gaining possesion, he has stepped it up in defence this year, ranking fifth this year in the AFL for tackles. A big concern for the Hawks is the West Coast big forwards after Geelong’s Tom Hawkins and James Podsiadly took 12 marks between them in the Hawks’ own 50 in round 2. They again come up against some quality forwards with the Westcoast lineup boasting Quentin Lynch, Josh Darling and Jack Kennedy.
A gutsy Hawthorn side will leave it all on the field this weekend but they come up against a West Coast side that is in some seriously good form. It is hard to look past the Eagles, who have so much talent and are capable of putting some seriously big scorelines on their opponents.
West Coast by 12.
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