West Coast coach Adam Simpson has a message for fans ahead of Sunday’s top-four showdown with the Bulldogs – buckle in.
After finishing outside the top eight last season, the Eagles and Bulldogs sit inside the top four and loom as the fairytale stories of 2015.
There will be plenty riding on Sunday’s clash, with West Coast remaining only half a game ahead of Hawthorn in second spot, and the Bulldogs holding onto fourth by percentage from Sydney.
West Coast held off a final-quarter comeback from Fremantle on Sunday to win the biggest clash in western derby history.
But the 15.14 (104) to 11.14 (80) result came at a cost, with Eagles defender Will Schofield subbed off because of a hamstring injury.
If West Coast can beat the `Dogs next Sunday, they will be on the verge of a home qualifying final.
Not that Simpson is getting carried away just yet.
“We’ve put ourselves in a really good position and we’re enjoying the ride,” Simpson said.
“But we can’t get too carried away about (the derby win).
“We’ve got the Bulldogs next week. They belted Melbourne. Then we’ve got Adelaide in Adelaide.”
West Coast are set to be bolstered by the return of Nic Naitanui and Mark LeCras against the Bulldogs, but Jamie Cripps (suspected fractured jaw), and Schofield are expected to miss.
Earlier on Sunday, the Bulldogs took another step towards securing the double chance as their breakout season continued.
Their 24.9 (153) to 8.7 (55) romp over Melbourne at Etihad Stadium was the Bulldogs’ highest score this season.
It gave them a potentially crucial percentage boost as they retained fourth spot ahead of the Swans.
But coach Luke Beveridge still does not want to talk about what might be possible.
Asked if he now accepts the `Dogs will play in the finals, he replied: “Can we still miss mathematically? Yes. So not yet.
“I’ve seen cases of things going south over a long period of time and we’re not out of that bracket yet.”
Across town at the MCG, Richmond turned a potential danger game into a rout, beating the Suns by 83 points.
The 22.6 (138) to 8.7 (55) win means the Tigers are only one game behind the Bulldogs and Sydney.
Richmond have a better percentage than the fifth-placed Swans.
Hawthorn stayed in the hunt for a top-two finish and a home qualifying final with Saturday night’s 36-point win over-arch rivals Geelong.
Sydney beat Collingwood by 11 points to start the round, ending the Magpies’ slim finals chances.
GWS is also just about out of top-eight contention after going down to Port Adelaide by 21 points.
North Melbourne rallied from a poor first half to beat St Kilda by 27 points.
And Adelaide moved into the top eight at Geelong’s expense with a 112-point smashing of hapless Essendon.
Brisbane’s 64-point win over Carlton meant the Blues replaced the Lions at the bottom of the ladder.