Derby shocker won’t haunt Eagles in AFL

West Coast coach Adam Simpson insists his team won’t be haunted by their most recent western derby flogging when they take on Fremantle in Sunday’s grudge match at Domain Stadium.

Eagles players were left shell shocked in round three when Fremantle piled on nine straight goals in a blistering opening term to take a stranglehold on the match.

Fremantle’s lead was 66 points by half-time, with only some junk-time goals by West Coast closing the final margin to 30.

The thrashing seemed to be a turning point for the Eagles, who went on to win 12 of their next 13 games to soar into premiership contention.

Simpson is urging his charges to relish the challenge of once again testing themselves against the Dockers.

And as bad as the round-three thumping was, Simpson doesn’t believe it’s left a lasting imprint on his players.

“I like to think we’ve evolved since then,” Simpson said.

“We’ll take some lessons from that. We’ve developed some different strengths and flexibilities since that game.

“It was disappointing how we started. It was just an obliteration in the first half. We were bleeding from everywhere.

“But I wouldn’t say this week is about redemption from round three for us.

“We wont talk about that at all.”

Both teams are set to enter the match without a host of their best players.

West Coast will be without star ruckman Nic Naitanui (compassionate leave), Mark LeCras (suspended), and Jeremy McGovern (hamstring).

Fremantle defender Luke McPharlin remains in doubt with a corked calf, while skipper Matthew Pavlich (Achilles tendon) and midfielder David Mundy (ankle) are fresh injury concerns.

Brownlow medal favourite Nat Fyfe is on track to return from a groin injury, while Michael Johnson is also ready to resume after overcoming a torn hamstring.

Although Fremantle appear a certainty to win the minor premiership, West Coast will need to fight tooth and nail if they are to retain their spot in the top two.

The Eagles are now just two points clear of Hawthorn, and they face tough matches against the Bulldogs (home) and Adelaide (away) after the derby.

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