VENUE & TIME: Patersons Stadium, Sunday May 27, 2.40pm (AWST)
HEAD TO HEAD: Played: 38, West Coast 20, St Kilda 17, 1 draw
LAST TIME: St Kilda 13.4 (82) def. West Coast 9.7 (61), Round 16 2011 at Etihad Stadium
LAST TIME AT VENUE: St Kilda 13.13 (91) def. West Coast 8.8 (56), Round 9 2010 at Patersons Stadium
West Coast's injury woes finally look set to ease. While they are still without long-term absentees Josh Kennedy, Mark LeCras, Andrew Embley and Mark Nicoski, and Ashton Hams is suspended, Nic Naitanui (hamstring), Ashley Smith (ankle), Adam Selwood (hand) and Will Schofield (suspension) are all expected to return. Matt Priddis is in serious doubt with concussion though, but Daniel Kerr will play despite suffering food poisoning early in the week.
The loss of Ben McEvoy, who is out for more than a month with a knee injury, was seen as a major issues for St Kilda but they had little trouble coping without him against Carlton even though they did get belted in the hitouts. The Saints will also be without Sam Fisher, who withdrew at the last minute against the Blues but should be back next week. St Kilda initially feared youngster Nicholas Winmar had fractured his ankle in the VFL last week but scans showed that was not the case and he could even be available for selection.
Eagles Past Five:
Round 7: Loss, 7.10 (52) - 16.17 (113) v Bombers, Etihad Stadium
Round 6: Win, 17.18 (120) - 15.5 (95) v Kangaroos, Patersons Stadium
Round 5: Win, 16.11 (107) - 14.13 (97) v Tigers, Etihad Stadium
Round 4: Win, 5.21 (51) - 5.16 (46) v Hawks, Patersons Stadium
Round 3: Win, 23.12 (150) - 10.9 (69) v Giants, Blacktown International Sports Park
Saints Past Five:
Round 7: Win, 19.8 (122) - 14.14 (98) v Blues, Etihad Stadium
Round 6: Loss, 13.10 (88) - 18.15 (123) v Hawks, MCG
Round 5: Win, 12.12 (84) - 10.6 (66) v Demons, MCG
Round 4: Loss, 11.13 (79) - 14.8 (92) v Dockers, Etihad Stadium
Round 3: Win, 15.13 (103) - 5.10 (40) v Bulldogs, Etihad Stadium
West Coast's injury list was always likely to catch up with them in some way, but the way it did was quite alarming. They lacked their usual intensity and decision-making in the loss to Essendon. But through the first six games they had shown how tough they can be to beat.
The Saints sent out a big statement with their win against the Blues. They had largely been dismissed as premiership contenders but the way they outplayed one of the favourites made others stand up and take note. They needed it too after an unconvincing few weeks.
Josh Hill - It was always clear the former Bulldogs small forward had potential and he has finally started living up to it. Through the first seven games, the new recruit has kicked 16 goals and also impressed with his amount of forward pressure. Hill's influence has been crucial for the Eagles in the absence of last year's three leading goalkickers.
Stephen Milne - Normally it is Carlton's small forwards causing issues for other teams, but they had no way of stopping Milne on Monday night. Milne's four goals in his best game of the season gave him 15 for the year, which is not quite on pace for last season's tally of 56 but still on track for an excellent season.
As courageous and impressive as the Saints were against Carlton, taking down West Coast in Perth is going to be an entirely different challenge and one they are likely to find too difficult. The Eagles have not lost at Patersons Stadium since Round 3 last year, which means they have won 14 in a row there, although the Hawks did go close to knocking them off this year and the Kangaroos were not too far away either. With West Coast's short-term injury issues nearing an end they are going to be a much better side than the one which capitulated against Essendon and an extra effort on the rebound would be far from surprising. But if St Kilda show the same pace, creativity and energy they did against the Blues, they certainly have the potential to cause the Eagles major issues. The Melbourne side's record in Perth under Ross Lyon was excellent and that has to give them some confidence, while they have the defensive ability to shut down West Coast's scoring options given their depleted forward line. But if the Eagles drop this one they could even be looking at a run as bad as four losses from their next five games and they are too good a side to ruin their minor premiership ambitions by letting that happen. West Coast by 21 points.