All is on the line for what could be the biggest game of the Eagles season.
Finals are looming and it’s a big couple of weeks for the eagles, but they’re on the home straight with a qualifying final within reach.
But with the Saints, hot on their tails, Thursday night’s matchup will be one of the most important games of the AFL season with both teams able to solidify their finals hopes.
The Eagles can slingshot themselves into 4th spot above Richmond with a win, and the Saints can draw level with the Eagles on 40 points.
But the Saints are no pushovers and have been slowly creeping up the ladder this year with an impressive win against the Hawks in round 16.
The Eagles will want to guard against complacency on Thursday Night after they were slow to react to the Bulldogs attackers last week at the Metricon, losing only narrowly in what was a tough game to take.
The Saints are also a fast-moving team and have the ability turn momentum quickly, recovering the ball in their own 50, moving the ball upfield quickly and hitting Tim Membrey up top who has notched up to Dan Butler, Max King and Tim Membrey with 60 goals between them this season, the West Coast will want to cut out the Saints midfield feed to their forwards early on.
But we assume Adam Simpson will have the team firing this week to come out firing to make up for last weekends bitter loss, with Shannon Hurn and Nic Naitanui expected tor return to the side .
We’ll have a huge contest at the ruck this week, with the tower that is Nic Naitanui facing up against the Saint’s Paddy Ryder. Naitanui spent round 16 on the bench, after being withdrawn late from the game with a sore back, and the rest will have done him some good, to get the edge on Ryder this week.
And with a heavily depleted side with no Luke Shuey, Elliot Yeo, Lewis Jetta, Mark Hutchings, and Jack Redden, the Eagles will be starting the side with 6 new changes including Hurn and Naitanui.
Relying on some of thier youngsters to get the job done, Midfield maestro Jarrod Brander and pace man Jack Petruccelle will drop into the midfield with debutant Hamish Brayshaw stepping up the forward line. Will Schofield will come back to the side after recovering from surgery on his elbow a month ago.
Liam Duggan will also make his 100th appearance for the Eagles this week, shuring up the Eagles backline with Tom Barrass and Jeremy McGovern, who seems to have recovered quickly from a thumb injury he suffered last week.
But all eyes will be on the Eagles midfielders Andrew Gaff and Tim Kelly to command and lead the younger players through this game in the absence of Luke Shuey.
The Eagles must win this game if they are to keep their flag hopes alive.