West Coast the new premiership favourite - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

West Coast the new premiership favourite

By Adam Cooper 17/04/2005 07:46:10 PM Comments (0)

Step forward West Coast as the new AFL premiership favourite, but at your peril.

The Eagles, atop the ladder after round four, are the fourth team this year installed as favourites in a season fast emerging as a nightmare for tipsters but encouraging for any side that can put its best together.

In a remarkably even competition just four weeks old, the Eagles and Kangaroos - 10th in 2004 - are unbeaten, Adelaide and Richmond have climbed from bottom five to top five in four games and reigning grand finalists Port Adelaide (10th) and Brisbane (14th) cannot take a trick.

Port began the year as favourite, quickly overtaken by St Kilda before Melbourne emerged.

But the Saints' 47-point hammering of Melbourne at Telstra Dome on Sunday - which included a run of 14 goals to six after half-time - revealed major chinks in the Demons' armour, namely the lack of a key defender capable of playing on a forward like Fraser Gehrig (six goals) and finding a dependable spark now that Cameron Bruce (shoulder) is injured.

St Kilda's 23.13 (151) to 15.14 (104) win also got its faltering campaign back on track and coach Grant Thomas would take heart knowing his side boasted such firepower without the injured Nick Riewoldt and Justin Koschitzke.

Melbourne's loss made the Eagles the side to watch this week and, after a comprehensive 21.17 (143) to 17.5 (107) win over the Western Bulldogs, John Worsfold's men hold no fear about taking on the Lions at the Gabba where they have a good record.

The Eagles' midfield of Chris Judd, Ben Cousins, Chad Fletcher and Michael Braun combined for 125 possessions and nine goals against the Bulldogs and will be the key against the Lions, who missed Michael Voss and Nigel Lappin against the Hawks and had Simon Black

The Lions and Port can blame injuries for their tardy starts, but there are worrying signs as their 14 rivals look to have closed the gap quickly.

The Lions were smashed by Hawthorn 18.7 (115) to 10.9 (69) and the three-time premiership heavyweights were unable to do anything about a staggering advantage in possession conceded to the Hawks, who played patient, possession football that belied their winless lead-up.

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