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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

AFL finals 2018: Week off has West Coast Eagles ready to go for preliminary final against Melbourne

West Coast have clearly benefited from the week’s break and will enter Saturday’s preliminary final with a red-hot Melbourne feeling fresh and confident, according to star forward Josh Kennedy.
The Eagles trained at Optus Stadium yesterday as they began their quest to advance to the grand final. It was the first time the team had trained since a solid session last Friday.
Kennedy said the players had noticed the difference compared with a normal Monday session and were looking forward to their opportunity.
“I feel pretty good. Most of the boys are feeling pretty fresh coming off this break,” Kennedy said.
“We had a big session on Friday and most boys this morning are reporting they’re feeling pretty good. It’s exciting.
“It’s been good to have a week off. Obviously you want to continue playing and get that consistency, which is obviously what Melbourne have had. They’re in pretty good form and they’ve got some really good momentum. We know it’s going to be a massive challenge but we get a home prelim and can’t complain about having a week off.”
Kennedy said the Eagles had also benefited from their lack of travel in recent weeks. West Coast haven’t been on a plane since beating Brisbane at the Gabba on August 26.
The dual Coleman medallist admitted he struggled in the qualifying final against Collingwood. A leg injury restricted Kennedy to only three of West Coast’s last 10 matches and Tyson Goldsack controlled him for most of the match against the Magpies.
But Kennedy kicked 2.4 in the second half and said he had started to feel more comfortable as the game progressed.
“The game was pretty quick,” he said.
Eagles coach Adam Simpson talks this weekend's home preliminary final.
“I think I’ve only played three games in the space of 13 or 14 weeks. You try and get as much training in as you can but it can never really mimic a game.
“In your head you feel pretty good but the body wasn’t keeping up with the pace of it. I was pretty rusty early and missed a few shots. I was in all sorts but towards the end I was lucky enough to get a few clunks.”
Melbourne beat West Coast at Optus Stadium by 17 points in round 22 but Kennedy didn’t play and Jack Darling’s game ended in the first quarter because of concussion.
The Demons were the highest-scoring team in the home-and-away season, so Kennedy said the Eagles were keen to deny them opportunities.
“All finals are based on how long you can keep the ball in your forward half,” Kennedy said. “We’ve seen over the previous weeks teams are just trying to get it forward and lock it in.”