West Coast’s bid for back-to-back AFL premierships in 2019 was on track until a shock loss booted them from the top four. Are their flag hopes now gone?

It was just two weeks ago that West Coast were sitting pretty as AFL premiership favourites. Alongside Richmond, Adam Simpson’s side were $3.75 fancies with Palmerbet to go back-to-back in season 2019. A gallant loss in round 22 to the Tigers hardly affected their price, slipping just marginally out to $4.20 after a tight contest in the wet at the MCG. In that game, the Eagles blew Richmond away in the opening term before the home side clawed it back. Many saw it as a pre-cursor to the grand final – and you could see why.

The loss barely impacted their premiership hopes because they knew that a win in round 23 against Hawthorn would see them remain inside the top four – long seen as the prerequisite for premiership sides (with the very odd exception). Starting as $1.25 favourites against the Hawks, the clash was seen by some as a mere pre-finals hit-out. But it would turn out to be much, much more than that. And the repercussions could hardly be bigger.

Has loss derailed their finals?

The Hawks ($4 pre-game with Palmerbet) would go on to not just defeat the Eagles on their home turf, but do so to the tune of 38 points. If Alastair Clarkson couldn’t have his say from inside the top eight, he certainly did from outside. And after Collingwood accounted for Essendon, the Eagles were booted outside the all important top four. With it, their AFL premiership hopes have incredibly slipped from $4.20 out to $10. No non-Victorian club has ever won the flag finishing outside the top four. The Western Bulldogs (in 2016) are the only side to do so in recent memory. So what does the loss to Hawthorn mean?

Get ready to travel

A top four finish would have guaranteed West Coast the double chance, plus a home semi-final at worst. Now, the only AFL final they’ll play at home is in week one, making their task all the more difficult. Even a win against Essendon would see them play the loser of Geelong v Collingwood and, should they win THAT – another tough trip on the road against the winner of next week’s Brisbane v Richmond qualifying final. If anything, it means they will be criss-crossing around the country throughout September. AFL great Garry Lyon said on Monday’s On the Couch their predicament was now a tough one. “Back-to-back premiers, it is so hard to do these days,” he said. “I wonder about hunger, mindset and attitude. Twelve months earlier if it was life and death they would not have served that up.”

Palmerbet’s ‘stage of elimination’ market for West Coast is as follows:

  • Elimination final: $4.40
  • Semi-final: $2.00
  • Preliminary final: $4.50
  • Runner-up: $10
  • Win premiership: $10

Dons await

Essendon are set to welcome back a host of big names for next weekend’s clash in the west. Among them are Jake Stringer, Orazio Fantasia, captain Dyson Heppell, Cale Hooker and potentially Michael Hurley. The Eagles are currently $1.22 favourites with Palmerbet in that clash, with the Bombers $4.30 outsiders.

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