West Coast will play Melbourne at ANZ Stadium on Saturday, and the Eagles will need to win by a margin of at least two goals to avoid a first-round elimination from the competition.
Key points:Melbourne is likely to host the finals on the weekendThe Eagles will be the defending premiersThe Demons, Bulldogs, Gold Coast and Richmond are all set to be in the top fourAfter the Cats and Eagles’ last meeting, it was a match that was all about momentum.
Melbourne took a 15-point lead after the opening term and then a 23-point margin in the final term to beat the Eagles, 26-24, in round 19.
The Cats have now been eliminated from the finals for the first time since 2012.
They’ll host Richmond in round 22, but there are a number of factors that could prevent the Demons from reaching the final.
West Coast is likely still to be favourites to win the top-four, with West Coast currently a three-point win away from an elimination-round spot.
However, West Coast is expected to be one of the top teams in the competition, with the Eagles the second-ranked team in the West.
The Eagles’ best chance to avoid elimination is if they win by two goals, with Melbourne a one-point defeat away from a premiers’ spot.
The Demons have a two-point advantage over the Eagles and a four-point cushion over the Giants, who are also favourites to finish in the finals.
But West Coast could find itself on the outside looking in with Melbourne likely to be the host team on Saturday.
Injury problems for the Eagles mean they are unlikely to be able to field their full complement of players for the game.
West’s defence, particularly at halfback, has been a concern since losing their captain and leading ruckman David Mundy to injury in round five.
Ruckman Mitch Duncan and ruck coach Brad Scott will be unavailable due to injury.
The Giants are set to play Melbourne on Friday night, but the Demons have already confirmed they will not be fielding their full squad.
The team that wins will face a finals rematch against Melbourne next Sunday.
Topics:nrl,sports,australia,melbourne-3000,vic,vicball,vicsource ABC News (AUS)