West Coast Eagles vs Melbourne Demons AFL finals live stream and TV guide

Competition’s surprise packets the West Coast Eagles and Melbourne Demons battle it out for a spot in the 2018 AFL Grand Final. This is The Roar’s guide to watching the game online and on TV.
The match is scheduled to begin at 3:20pm (AEST) on Saturday, September 22 at Optus Stadium.
After a disappointing end to their 2017 season, where they were bundled out in the semi-finals following a 67-point loss to the Giants, the Eagles are getting closer to securing their first flag since 2006.
West Coast progressed through to the preliminary finals after a hard-fought 86-70 win over Collingwood a fortnight ago.
They have prospered in 2018 on the back of an emphasis on ball control and will need to be at their best to limit Melbourne’s chances of getting into the game.
The AFL can’t really lose out of this game, with a Demons victory setting up a possible fairytale finish in next week’s grand final.
After just missing out on a finals berth last year, Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin looks to have successfully rebuilt the club and they are now a real chance of claiming their first title since 1964.
They also have the strike to cause an upset with midfielder Jack Viney’s dynamic return proving pivotal to their finals success.
How to watch on TV
Fox Footy Channel 504 is the place to catch all the highlights from the preliminary finals.
You can also tune into the game in high definition on channel 258 but you will need the relevant Foxtel package.
For those Foxtel subscribers who would rather watch Seven’s coverage, you can catch the game on channels 107 and 207 for both standard and high definition viewing.
Regardless, you will obviously need a valid Foxtel TV subscription if you wish to watch Saturday afternoon’s game.
Of course, free-to-air viewers can catch all of the games from this year’s finals series on the Seven Network, although the exact channel each match will be shown on may vary depending on what region you are situated in.
If you can’t find either of this week’s preliminary finals on Channel Seven, they will likely be shown on digital back-up channels 7mate and Seven Two. These can be found on channels 73 and 72 respectively.
Channel Seven will be covering the game in both high and standard definition on channels 70 and 71 respectively.
If you are unsure about the exact times, make sure to check your local guides.
Where to watch the game online
Watching the game online is just as easy and there are several ways you can watch Saturday afternoon’s match.
The first alternative is through either of Foxtel’s live streaming applications. There are two applications you may choose from, either Foxtel Now or the Foxtel App.
You can also use the AFL’s Live Pass service to tune into the match online if you have the AFL app on Android, iOS or Windows mobile devices.
This service isn’t free, however, with a monthly pass available for around $14.99 per month while a weekly pass can be purchased at $4.99 per month.
If you are overseas and hoping to tune into the clash, you can do so through Watch AFL.
Of course, here at The Roar we will have all you need with a live blog of the game as well as highlights as we count down towards next week’s decider.

Five talking points from Collingwood vs Richmond

One of the pitfalls of being employed in sports media is that sometimes it’s easy to get too wrapped up in the work of providing coverage of sporting events and forget to enjoy the sport itself.
Another is that if your work involves forecasting results, it can almost be frustrating when things don’t go the way you expect – not because you’re at all wedded to your predictions, but simply because you take pride in your work.
These are both traps I’ve fallen into at times in 2018, but neither of them got me last night. Collingwood’s shock 39-point win to put themselves into a grand final and eliminate the flag favourites from finals was the kind of tour de force that simply demands your enraptured attention and deals away with all else.
It’s funny the way football works that history will be re-written pretty quick and pundits will be quick to point out all the red flags which should have tipped us off that a result like this was coming. And to be fair, in retrospect, they were there.
In my Sunday column at the end of Round 23 I pointed out that while Richmond were coming into finals on a six-game winning streak, three of their last four had been won by eight points or less.
The theory that it’s good for a premiership contender to have a loss somewhere in those last few games took another scalp on Friday night. The three teams left in the race – Collingwood, Melbourne and West Coast – all lost at least one of their last four home-and-away games.
In the same column I ranked Richmond’s fellow finals sides in order of how likely they were to topple the Tigers, and put Collingwood in first. My reasoning: “the Magpies have both the power and the confidence to upset the Tigers on the big stage.”
And in this week’s tips I said “If anything the finals series so far would suggest that September has favoured more those teams with potential than experience”, something I believe was true for both Collingwood and Melbourne this week.
Look at me trying to make myself sound smart. Don’t buy into it! I still tipped the Tigers. And these few moments where I thought a result like this could happen are needles carefully picked from a haystack of predictions that back-to-back flags for the Tigers was a fait accompli.
That however is the most beautiful thing about footy: its ability to deliver the unexpected. To paraphrase what Gandalf said about hobbits, you can learn everything there is to know about the game in a month, and after a hundred years it can still surprise you.
Last night’s game was the kind to make me fall in love with footy all over again, for perhaps the hundredth time if not the thousandth. It’s only a day on, but it was a match you know you’ll remember and speak about in hushed tones for decades to come, and even the most ardent Collingwood hater surely got swept up in it.
(Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)
De Goey and Cox deliver
Let’s fast forward back to Round 1 for a moment.
Mason Cox played a stinker of a game against Hawthorn and around the media, everyone was asking the question of whether it was time for Collingwood to end the American experiment.
Meanwhile, Jordan De Goey was sitting in the stands, unable to play due to injury but would likely have missed even if fit as punishment for a drink driving incident in the pre-season.
Who could have predicted that in six months’ time they’d kick a combined seven goals to deliver a grand final berth to a team that had finished a lowly 13th the year before?
Simply the stuff of legend.
Lynch watches nervously on
Gold Coast free agent Tom J Lynch is a Collingwood supporter born and raised but like most AFL players, put his allegiances firmly aside when he entered the league.
So much so that this year when given a choice between his childhood club and the reigning premiers, he made what many would think was the smart, rational decision and picked the Tigers (expect confirmation of this any day now).
How must he have felt last night then, watching the team he loved in his youth, a team he could be playing for next year if he wanted to, so thoroughly defeat the side he’s selected?
We’re probably over dramatising it a bit. But he’d only be human if he was having some second thoughts.
Treloar’s revenge
And speaking of players choosing between the Pies and the Tigers – after copping 12 months of flak, Adam Treloar is into a grand final.
Treloar of course famously said in a pre-season camp in November 2015 that he’d chosen Collingwood over Richmond because the Magpies had a better playing list.
It’s the kind of media-managed comment that means literally nothing but of course in the otherwise mostly barren media month of November it blew up, and when Tigers fans won the 2017 flag they certainly had neither forgiven nor forgotten.
It must have felt extra sweet then for Adam Treloar in the final quarter of last night’s match to deliver the killing blow – kicking a goal to end an early run in that term from the Tigers and put to bed any hopes of an unlikely comeback.
(Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)
Here comes a great grand final
The best part about last night’s result is that now no matter which way Saturday’s prelim between West Coast and Melbourne goes, we’re guaranteed an exciting grand final.
Taking the Tigers out of the race means there are three teams left who are all arguably on level footing or at least very close to.
The Magpies will either play West Coast who would come in with confidence remembering that they gave Collingwood a flogging at the MCG earlier this year, or meet Melbourne in a fairytale lover’s perfect match between the Flagpies and the Dreamons.
Either way after so long thinking of this year’s race for the premiership as being between Richmond and the rest of the world, it’s refreshing and exciting to see this sudden and unexpected turn of events. I can’t wait.

West Coast vs Melbourne: Preliminary final forecast

Perth holds no fear for Melbourne, so it goes. But there’s many more reasons for the Dees to feel confident heading into this afternoon’s preliminary final against the West Coast Eagles.
Will those reasons be enough to overcome a more rested opponents on their home deck? We’ll find out in a few hours time.
If momentum exists, and the evidence is scant that it does, then Melbourne holds the world’s most plentiful supply of it. The Dees have won eight of their last ten games, with a percentage of 147 per cent (which translates to an average margin of 33 points). In that time Melbourne has beaten Geelong, Greater Western Sydney, Hawthorn and West Coast.
The Dees have a decent track record in Perth in recent times too. Their last trip to Subiaco was a memorable victory, in one of the better games of the 2017 season. It was also the club’s first win out west against the Eagles since 2002, Tom McDonald’s decisive last kick of the game ending a nine game ground-opponent losing streak.
That carried to the club’s last outing in Perth, a 17-point win over the Eagles at Perth Stadium (a game I covered for The Roar).
As I said, if momentum is a thing, then Melbourne would appear to have it. But there are genuine Xs and Os reasons to be all in on this game, beyond it being the second last game of the AFL season.
And it begins at the selection table. West Coast has recalled single club journeyman Will Schofield as replacement for the injured Brad Sheppard, Schofield able to play the flex-defender spot with his strong marking and on-the-ground pace. It does make the Eagles’ defensive set look a little on the tall side, though Melbourne’s mid-sized forwards would have given them trouble anyway. That one was predictable.
Lewis Jetta of the Eagles (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Media/Getty Images)
Melbourne has made a more significant change, dropping half back Bayley Fritsch for the taller and stouter Joel Smith. Fritsch has played 23 games this season, and has been one of the reasons the Dees have been able to become such a powerful scoring side on turnovers.
He’s part of a relatively small defensive set, which has generally rolled with two tall defenders, three mid-sized and one small in Neville Jetta this season. Smith has played seven games this year, coming in as a third tall in two separate blocks in 2018.
The prevailing view seems to be Melbourne has picked Smith to assist the Dees account for the three tall forward set up of the Eagles: Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling and a resting ruckman (mostly Nathan Vardy, and sometimes Scott Lycett). Through that lens that makes sense, but one can’t help but think Melbourne is reacting to something that shouldn’t even be an issue.
The Dees have conceded just 47 inside 50s per game – the second fewest in the competition – and they are worried about what the third (at best and probably fifth in reality) most threatening forward 50 target might do to them. And to ameliorate that they were willing to toss out a critical element of their winning formula. I don’t like it. It isn’t going to be the difference between a win and a loss, but every little bit helps – or hinders.
What makes it even more puzzling is the Dees beat West Coast a month ago on the back of its system. With a fast start in the books, Melbourne settled in to its work by beating up the Eagles around the ball and cutting off their kicking lanes in defence. But it wasn’t defence that won Melbourne the day.
The Eagles had about 50 minutes of possession, which on their season rate would suggest they’d score 89 points. They scored 91. Instead, it was Melbourne’s incisive attack, which scored 2.04 points per minute of possession against West Coast’s season long rate of 1.50 points per minute of opposition possession, which was the difference. And that is what Melbourne will need to do again.
West Coast’s defence has been sound all season, conceding 100 points just twice on the year. The first was Lance Franklin’s eight goal haul in Round One, and the second was against the Dees in Round 22.
Jeremy McGovern, Shannon Hurn and the rest of the crew have also been crucial to setting up West Coast’s outside kicking game, their decision making with ball in hand helping the Eagles navigate – or bust – opposition defensive zones.
Jeremy McGovern of the Eagles (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)
Melbourne shut this down in Round 22, with disciplined formations and a commitment to moving with the play as the Eagles attempted to switch. Now, it is important to note West Coast was missing two of its most important ball movement cogs in Darling (knocked out ten minutes into the game) and Kennedy.
It meant the Eagles struggled to find a bail out option down the line, and it allowed ruckman Max Gawn to intercept and rebound at will. This time, they are both in place, and while Kennedy looked awful in the first half he came into his own in the second.
Melbourne will feel confident that it can win the inside battle once again. The Dees were +14 in clearances and +25 in adjusted contested possessions on the game. The clearance number is outsize, even for Melbourne wins (+5) and West Coast losses (-6). The adjusted contested possession number is, however, about right: in wins Melbourne has averaged +23 on this metric, and in its losses West Coast has averaged -21. The critical issue in the last game then would appear to have been ball movement.
Can Melbourne bring the commitment and pressure that allowed them to disrupt West Coast’s ball movement, and counter quickly the other way? Their last three months suggests it is certainly possible. But the Eagles will have learned from last time out, and this time have a forward line more like the one that has gone scorched earth more often than not in 2018.
Jake Melksham of the Demons is seen in action (AAP Image/Julian Smith)
It shapes as a stellar final, with an interstate bottom half of the eight finisher given more than a puncher’s chance of victory. The market has West Coast about a half a goal favourite, though we’ll see if that carries to game day when the big boys get involved in the exchange.
Personally, I think home field advantage, the extra week off, and the very clear adjustments bought by the return of Kennedy and Darling to the West Coast side are enough to suggest there won’t be a repeat of last time out. Melbourne is a great football team that has the makings of a phenomenal one, but its 2018 run will end here.
West Coast will win, by six points, and the game margin won’t extend too far beyond that for most of the day. That’s my preliminary final forecast, what’s yours?