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Opposition watch: Eagles

Julian Trantino, Carlton Media  August 11, 2017 12:08 PM

Bolton talks Eagles, Barker and contracts Brendon Bolton fronted the media as the team departed Melbourne to take on the Eagles in Round 21.

The Blues have their sights set on ruining West Coast’s finals hopes when they take to the soon-to-be defunct Domain Stadium for the 43rd and final time on Saturday night. 

Their mission will be challenging, however, with the Eagles boasting a 7-3 win-loss record at home this season.

Sitting just outside the top eight on percentage, West Coast will be hungry to rebound from an eight-point loss to St Kilda and keep its finals chances alive.

But Brendon Bolton’s Blues will be out to spoil the party and topple the Eagles for the first time since 2014.

“Teams positioned where we are (17th) always have a purpose of trying to disturb other teams’ runs into finals,” Bolton told the media on Friday.

“We’re looking forward to attacking this game.”

Carlton was minutes away from derailing finals aspirant Essendon last week, but was overrun in the dying stages to suffer an eight-point loss. 

The Eagles found themselves in an identical situation, blowing a final-term lead for the second time in three weeks.

They held a 24-point buffer over Collingwood early in the final term in Round 18, but had 22 fewer contested possessions in the last quarter to lose by eight points. 

At Etihad Stadium on Sunday, they had 31 fewer contested possessions in the final term as St Kilda overturned a two-goal deficit. 

West Coast coach Adam Simpson said his team’s fadeouts were worrying.

“For time in front as a stat, we’re probably second or third in the comp,” Simpson said. 

“To be in those winning positions and not be able to close it is out is a real concern. 

“We’re looking really hard at it and want to redeem it as quick as we can.”

The Eagles will be boosted by the return of retiring veteran Matt Priddis, who was controversially left out last week.

The Brownlow Medallist joins Nathan Vardy and Lewis Jetta as inclusions, while Chris Masten, Will Schofield and Malcolm Karpany have been omitted. 

Vardy also looms as a valuable addition, with West Coast’s ruck division struggling in recent weeks without the injured Nic Naitanui and Scott Lycett. 

He’ll go head-to-head with Matthew Kreuzer, who last week produced another dominant performance to help the Blues smash Essendon 42-28 in the clearances. 

If Carlton is to cause an upset, its defence will need to quell the influence of powerhouse forward Josh Kennedy minus Caleb Marchbank, who has been sidelined with an arm injury.

Since returning from injury, former Blue Kennedy has booted 20 majors from four games – a whopping 36 per cent of West Coast’s goals in that time. 

He appears destined for a match-up with Liam Jones, who kept Coleman Medal leader Joe Daniher to three goals on Saturday.

The Blues and Eagles will meet for the 43rd time on Saturday night, with the ledger locked at 21 wins apiece.