Match preview: Sydney Swans vs West Coast Eagles, Round 1, 2018

Perth Stadium will fittingly kick the season off for the Eagles against one-time arch enemy, the Sydney Swans, in a blockbuster clash to end Round 1 on Sunday afternoon.

Hype has been building since the Eagles won the rights to the first game at Perth Stadium, and will now go into overdrive with the game rapidly approaching.

Both teams carry injury concerns heading into the match, with Nic Naitanui just passed fit, despite playing just 60 minutes of football in the last 18 months.

Naitanui's return will bolster a questionable midfield, already threadbare with the retirements of Priddis and Mitchell in the off-season, and provide respite for the undermanned forward line.

The Swans carry limited injury concerns into the game, with Dan Hannebery missing through a calf injury, unable to pass fit at Thursday's main session, Sam Naismith who recently ruptured his ACL, and Gary Rohan who remained in Sydney for family reasons.

Jarrad McVeigh and Heath Grundy return to the side off restricted pre-seasons, while Robbie Fox plays his first game since Round 4, 2017.

WHERE AND WHEN:
Optus Stadium, Sunday March 25th, 4.20pm AWST

LAST FIVE TIMES:
R4, 2017, West Coast Eagles 13.13 (91) d Sydney Swans 10.5 (65) at Subiaco Oval
R5, 2016, Sydney Swans 12.16 (88) d West Coast Eagles 7.7 (49) at the SCG
R17, 2015, West Coast Eagles 15.13 (103) d Sydney Swans 7.9 (51) at Subiaco Oval
R16, 2014, Sydney Swans 10.19 (79) d West Coast Eagles 7.9 (51) at Subiaco Oval
R17, 2013, Sydney Swans 17.11 (113) d West Coast Eagles 11.13 (79) at Subiaco Oval

KEY MATCHUPS:
Lance Franklin vs Shannon Hurn
Last year Hurn had the better of Franklin after a first quarter clash left Lance hobbled. Franklin still finished the game with two goals.

Callum Sinclair vs Nic Naitanui
Nic Nat is coming off a limited pre-season while Sinclair is returning to the side after injuring his ankle in JLT 1.

Luke Shuey vs Luke Parker
The two midfield bulls will be at their best. They're both class and will need their best minders making sure their impact is limited. Expect to see Parker drift forward and stretch the Eagles defence

THE SIX POINTS:
1: Last time they played, the Eagles boasted a midfield of Brownlow medalists Matt Priddis and Sam Mitchell, and Coleman medalist favourite Josh Kennedy. Kennedy will miss through injury, while Priddis and Mitchell have retired.

2: The Eagles have won their last two fixtures in Perth by an average margin of 39 points, while the Swans won the previous 5 between the sides at Subiaco.

3: The last time they met, Priddis and Mitchell had 7 tackles each and 46 disposals - 23 of them contested - between them.

4: Sydney was a long kicking side last year, ranking third during the regular season. West Coast used shorter passes, ranking sixth overall for short kicks.

5: Sydney have enjoyed a positive JLT campaign, winning both games and conceding and average of 55.5 points. The Eagles won their first game, but scored an average of 47.5 points for.

6: Sydney had the stringiest defence last season, letting in just 75 points per game, while the Eagles managed to score just 89 points per game.

IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR...
Nic Naitanui, the athletic ruckman will be making his long awaited return after 18 months on the sideline, having ruptured his ACL in Round 22, 2016. The club are rolling the dice on his fitness, having played just 60 minutes of pre-season football this year.

Nic Naitanui

PREDICTION:
Sydney Swans by 33

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Justin Mitchell

Justin is a passionate AFL and Sydney Swans supporter, and football blogger since 2016. All articles are of his own opinion. You can reach him by twitter and Facebook at @theswansblog

Melbourne, Australia http://theswansblog.com

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