Eagles keen to reverse derby beatings

They’ve become accustomed to unwanted derby beatings but West Coast would still love to take on arch rivals Fremantle in this year’s finals series, according to premiership defender Sam Butler.

Fremantle are just one win away from squaring the overall western derby ledger after stringing together six straight wins against West Coast.

Of the past 19, Fremantle have won 15.

And with Fremantle and West Coast currently occupying the top two spots on the table, the chances of a derby final are growing by the week.

Butler insists it’s not something his side should be scared of, despite the unfavourable recent history.

“I would embrace it. I’d love that,” Butler said.

“It would be great for WA sport. Great for the fans. A little bit of bragging rights at the end of it.

“They’re the kind of games you get excited for. We’re not shying away from it.”

West Coast were dealt another blow on Thursday when Scott Selwood was ruled out with an ankle injury.

The Eagles vice-captain, who will seek further advice on the injury which has troubled him for much of the past two years, joins fellow stars Jeremy McGovern (hamstring), Mark LeCras (suspended) and Nic Naitanui (personal leave) on the sidelines.

Fremantle have drafted Nat Fyfe (groin) and Michael Johnson (hamstring) into their extended 25-man squad, while Matthew Pavlich (Achilles tendon) and David Mundy (ankle) were also named.

In their round-three clash this year, Fremantle booted the first 11 goals before cruising to a 30-point win.

Although that loss still stings Eagles players, it ended up being a catalyst for West Coast’s rise up the table.

The Eagles won 12 of their next 13 games to surge into second spot but their hopes of staying there hinge largely on results this weekend.

If West Coast lose to Fremantle and Hawthorn beat Geelong, the Eagles will slip to third – leaving even their top-four hopes in the balance.

Butler said his team were well aware of the consequences should they lose to Fremantle.

“I saw Woosha (former coach John Worsfold) saying it’s the biggest game in derby history,” Butler said.

“We’re going for a top-four spot. We’re one and two on the ladder. We’d love to catch them and take top spot. We’ve been improving all year.”

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