West Coast’s impeccable form at home contrasts with a terrible record away from home as we near the halfway mark of the 2021 AFL season. Will it cost them?

It doesn’t take a genius to work out where West Coast’s issues lie this season. At home in Perth, they’ve delivered on each occasion, winning all five games at Optus Stadium. Interstate, however it’s a different story. Just one win outside of WA — against the lowly Hawks — has seen them return a miserable 1-4 on the road. The worrying trend has seen them go from $8.50 AFL Premiership hopes with Palmerbet, now out to $15 after another poor defeat in Round 10 away from home. Does their inability on the road spell trouble for Adam Simpson this season?

2020 repeated

Issues outside WA are nothing new for the Eagles. Last year Simpson’s men were superb at Optus Stadium, winning all seven games at the venue. But their return on the road was 5-5, which including a poor start in the Gold Coast hub. “People look at it obviously like that and no worries, if you don’t win on the road you can be critical, go for your life,” Simpson said after the loss to GWS in Sydney on Sunday. “It doesn’t really change what we do and doesn’t worry me in the fact that you think that. It’s a reality so we need to own it.”

At one stage, after a dominant Round 3 win over Port Adelaide, the Eagles were $2.10 to finish the season inside the AFL Top 4. Now, however, they are out to $5.00. Despite that price change for the Top 4, the markets suggest the Eagles should still finish from fifth to eighth. They remain a $1.28 chance to finish inside the Top 8. The last time West Coast missed an AFL Finals series was back in 2014.

“Mark or bust”

Melbourne great Garry Lyon this week underlined why, outside of the away issues, the Eagles are struggling for consistency. He said they are going into games too tall, without enough ground-ball dominance. “When they’re at home and on-song, we all go ‘oh they’ll go on and win the premiership’,” Lyon said. “So Nic Nat is 202 (cm), Allen is 194, Brand is 196, Darling 191, Edwards 200, Williams 200, Waterman 192, Rotham 193, Kennedy 196. It’s mark or bust. And their ground-ball stuff has historically been terrible.” Lyon said those players at the ground level aren’t doing enough tackling-wise, which exacerbates the ‘too tall’ argument.

Big names back

The Eagles have been hit harder than most with big-name outs in 2021, something that can’t be ignored when considering their up-and-down form. But that is set to change soon, with a big boost to their engine room. Elliot Yeo is a chance to play this weekend against Essendon, while AFL premiership stars Luke Shuey, Jeremy McGovern and Liam Duggan should all return inside the next month.

The Eagles start Saturday night’s clash — crucially, at home — as $1.23 favourites, with the line currently at -25.5.

(*Prices correct at 11am Wednesday May 26)

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