Doggies' mission: impossible?
AFL: Domain Stadium is probably the last place the Western Bulldogs would have wanted to play a final.
The venue has been a graveyard for the Doggies in recent years, particularly when being hosted by West Coast, who they will meet in tomorrow night's elimination final.
The Bulldogs have not been successful at the Subiaco ground since 2010, losing their past seven games, including four against the Eagles by margins totalling 335 points - that's an average of 83.75 per pummelling.
The losing streak is clearly a sore point for the Bulldogs, with coach Luke Beveridge telling media before heading west "we don't talk about that”.
"But that parochial home-ground advantage is there,” he added. "Let's not dodge around the fact that there will be a pretty boisterous West Coast Eagles fan base and we'll have to deal with that.”
The Eagles will have at least 40,000 screaming fans backing them to record a 17th win from their past 18 matches at home.
While the Bulldogs' most recent defeat in Perth - a 20-point final-round loss to co-tenant Fremantle - will certainly be still fresh in the players' minds, they will prefer to focus on more successful interstate trips.
Their last two treks north to play the Swans at the Sydney Cricket Ground for instance, in 2015 and earlier this year, which have resulted in two four-point wins.
"That helps with your belief levels ... the boys will draw on some of that in their preparation,” Beveridge said.
Also in the memory banks will be the Bulldogs' last clash with the Eagles, at Docklands in round 11, when the hosts dominated possession - they had 124 more touches - on their way to an eight-point win.
And it is that Bulldogs outfit the Eagles will prepare for - particularly with Tom Liberatore and Jack Macrae set to return from injury to rejoin Marcus Bontempelli in the midfield.
Eagles veteran Matt Priddis and Luke Shuey rank fourth and fifth overall respectively for total clearances in 2016 behind Patrick Cripps, Josh Kennedy and Lachie Neale, and, along with the increasingly damaging Andrew Gaff, will be super important in the battle to get first use.
"The first 18 weeks of the year, they (the Bulldogs) were the best contested ball-winning team - No.1 for pressure,” Priddis told media yesterday. "So we're planning for them to get back to their best, manic pressure.”
Along with onballers Liberatore and Macrae, Easton Wood, Jordan Roughead and Jake Stringer are expected to come back into the side for the cut-throat final.
For the Eagles, big man Scott Lycett (knee) was battling to be fit with key-position player Mitch Brown on standby to join the recalled Jon Giles in the two-pronged ruck set-up.