Delivery inside 50 to be Eagles' focus

West Coast Eagles team members Sam Butler, Nic Naitanui and Jamie Cripps train at Aurora Stadium ahead of today's clash against Hawthorn. Pictures: PHILLIP BIGGS

West Coast Eagles team members Sam Butler, Nic Naitanui and Jamie Cripps train at Aurora Stadium ahead of today's clash against Hawthorn. Pictures: PHILLIP BIGGS

DOWN a key forward and with another attacking type on its omissions list, West Coast will be putting its focus on how it delivers the ball inside 50 when it faces Hawthorn at Aurora Stadium today.

With Josh Kennedy (fractured cheekbone) and Josh Hill (omitted) in the team last week, the Eagles were only able to kick six goals from 52 entries, and are desperately searching for a solution minus those two, who combined for 88 goals last season.

"It's mainly about the midfield and getting the job done there," midfield coach Jade Rawlings said at Aurora Stadium yesterday.

"We'll have to win the contested ball and put pressure on them, and when we do, we generally get the ball inside 50.

"Unfortunately we've lost Kennedy for this week, but we still think we have options.

"Young [Jeremy] McGovern comes in, who can take a mark, and Jack Darling is a quality player. Mark LeCras is another option and we can throw [Dean] Cox and Nic [Naitanui] up there as well.

"Our delivery inside 50 could definitely do with some work and we can't just go in bombing the ball and having teams drop back."

The Eagles will have an advantage in the ruck with Cox and Naitanui coming up against the inexperienced pair of debutant Luke Lowden and Jonathan Ceglar. Their star ruck pair could also have an impact in attack against a Hawthorn defence missing Josh Gibson and Brian Lake.

However, the Hawks' famed outside run will be even stronger with Cyril Rioli joining the likes of Isaac Smith and Bradley Hill.

"Our midfield has got to be on guard this week, we've got to use the ball well to begin with, but we've got to be really aware of their run and make sure we take them out of the game," Rawlings said.

The Eagles welcome back skipper Darren Glass and inside-midfielder Mark Hutchings, with Brad Sheppard (corked buttock) joining Kennedy on the injured list.

Rawlings said it was an "important period" for the club, which sits in 11th spot heading into the round with a 4-6 record, with a win against a higher-placed team in Hawthorn vital to kick-starting its year.

Today's game starts at 1.40pm.

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