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West Coast Eagles captain Shannon Hurn expects snarly Geelong Cats in do-or-die final

West Coast skipper Shannon Hurn says the premiers learnt valuable lessons from their heavy loss to Geelong this year and is optimistic they can turn the tables tonight.

The Eagles copped their biggest loss of 2019 when they travelled to GMHBA Stadium in round six, with the Cats running riot to post a 58-point triumph.

Geelong notched 61 inside 50s to 39 in a dominant display and won the contested-possession battle by 33.

West Coast rebounded from that loss to win 12 of their next 14 matches and were installed as favourites from the moment the Cats were outclassed by Collingwood last Friday night.

But the market swung dramatically when Willie Rioli’s provisional suspension came to light yesterday.

Jack Petruccelle was brought in to replace Rioli, the only change the Eagles made to the side that mauled Essendon last Thursday night.

Nic Naitanui, Tom Barrass and Jack Redden missed the round six thrashing but are playing tonight.

Hurn feels his team is far better placed to take on the Cats this time around.

“We couldn’t win the ball around the stoppage and we couldn’t get it going our way, and in the back line we just couldn’t get it out,” Hurn said.

“We’ve learnt from that. It feels like it was a long time ago.

“We’ve changed, Geelong have changed. We’ll be making sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Geelong have won only three of their 13 finals since winning the flag in 2011 and the pressure is on coach Chris Scott to make sure they avoid a straight-sets exit.

If the Cats are booted out, they would be the first minor premiers since North Melbourne in 1983 to bow out of the finals with successive defeats.

West Coast copped a barrage of criticism themselves after their final-round loss to Hawthorn, which cost them a prized top-four berth.

The Eagles bounced back from that loss to destroy the Bombers and Hurn is expecting the Cats to be similarly fired up tonight.

“We were in a similar position after the Hawthorn game,” Hurn told 6PR.

“Sometimes it just happens in football. You never want it to be an excuse but sometimes you’re just off. For the good teams the difference between their best and worst is quite small.

“What we’ll be planning for is Geelong at their best.

“They finished top, they only lost a few games for the year and they’ve got a lot of great players.”

Geelong recalled ruckman Rhys Stanley, a controversial omission from the selected side last week, and Cam Guthrie.

Making way were injured pair Mitch Duncan (knee) and Gary Rohan (knee).

“We’ve done our homework and we know what we’re trying to implement,” Cats defender Tom Stewart said.

“It’s just the attitude we bring … it’s as simple as that.”

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