Having reached the halfway point of the home-and-away season of the Toyota 2018 AFL Premiership competition, we encounter that juncture where the standings can get jumbled during the next three weeks when the clubs will take bye weeks.
The West Coast Eagles appear as though the break comes at the best possible moment.
Western Australia’s better side has won 10 straight, but after leaving it all on the ground when they showed the flag holder Richmond Tigers the Tigers’ biggest loss of the season, a 47-point margin in Round 9, the Tigers have appeared gassed a bit.
They beat the Hawthorn Hawks by a narrow 15 points and the St. Kilda Saints by just 13, so the need to regroup for the run to the finish is obvious.
Their remaining fixture has some challenges and some potential stumbling blocks in it. Richmond is immediately behind the Eagles and the Tigers are playing this weekend, so premiership points could soon be tied, providing the Tigers can get past the Power.
The Eagles will have to find a way to win without Jack Darling, who is out for a month with an ankle injury sustained in the game against St. Kilda. His prognosis is positive, but the hurt was to his kicking leg, so while the in-form forward may get back on the ground well ahead of finals play, it remains to be seen if he will be his usual 2.6 goal per game self.
General Manager of Football Craig Vozzo said that Darling could miss up to six weeks, so the scenario appears one of getting him fit during the run home.
After initially fearing the worst, we’ve received some reasonably positive news from our doctors, all things considered,” Vozzo said on the official website of the AFL.
The club and Darling initially feared that the injury could be a season ender, but the injury turned out to be a hairline fracture and ligament damage.