South Australia has the Showdown, Queensland the Clash but the Western Derby is considered one of the most exciting games of the entire season. Unlike other games, it doesn’t matter where the West Coast Eagles or the Fremantle Dockers are on the Ladder. The Derby is guaranteed to be a cracking, hard fought match. For the record, this time the teams were fifth and sixth on the Ladder and 41,000 fans were treated to a classic encounter.
Australian Rules Football lost one of its legends this week when Allan Jeans passed away. Jeans was the coach who took St Kilda to their only Premiership in over 100 years. It was going to be an emotional game for the Saints and these occasions can make for either inspiring wins or lamentable losses. St Kilda took the bull by the horns and ripped right into the West Coast Eagles in a cracking first quarter.
A sellout crowd of over 40,000 fans packed Patersons Stadium to see the West Coast Eagles take on a determined Geelong Cats. This was a chance for the Eagles to prove that they were real contenders for the Finals even without the in-form Quinten Lynch, who had been suspended for rough contact the week before. Geelong have not lost two games in a row for so long that people have arguments about when that was. The script was supposed to read that the Eagles would put up a valiant fight but go down in the end by five or six goals – but it didn’t go according to the script by a long way.
Port Adelaide traveled west to take on the in-form West Coast Eagles on a rare rainy day in Perth. Of late the Power have been anything but, looking unlikely to win a kick in a stampede. The Eagles had already trounced Port once this season in Round 2, but Port generally play well at Patersons Stadium and in Round 13, they gave the home side a scare or two.
Sydney and West Coast have a history of close, hard fought encounters over the last decade. The Eagles’ form so far this season has been good but Sydney never gives up the fight. This game was billed as a big challenge for the Eagles, up against a Finals team from last year after finishing on the bottom of the Ladder.
Perth has been in the grip of a never-ending summer. On a day that should have been pleasantly autumnal, the North Melbourne Kangaroos arrived to face 97 degree heat and a parochial crowd of nearly 36,000. To make matters worse, the Kangaroos' premier ruckman Goldstein came down with a stomach virus before the game leaving the lion’s share of the work up to first gamer Cameron Pederson.
An out of form Carlton side returned to Subiaco Oval in Round 17, having lost 11 of their last 13 encounters in the West. Although the Blues are in the top eight and the West Coast Eagles are last on the Ladder, the bookmakers had the odds almost even. Such is the nature of the competition this year, where even the last placed teams can be competitive and cause an upset.
Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Subiaco Oval
In spite of this match having little significance other than bragging rights in Western Australia, the Round 17 Western Derby opened true to form with some pre-game rough stuff. Before the ball was even bounced there were scuffles and bumps as players tried to assert psychological and physical dominance over their opponents. With West Coast and Fremantle ranked 15th and 16th for kicking efficiency in the league (last and second last) the possibility of a low skill and error-filled game was very real.