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West Coast must restore fear factor
West Coast must restore fear factor

West Coast have never got ahead of themselves and are desperate to ensure their finals rivals fear them in the countdown to September, says Eagle Brad Sheppard.

West Coast established an intimidating 18-game winning streak at Patersons Stadium in a period of dominance stretching from round six, 2011 to round 14 this year.

That unbeaten run came to a halt in the past month, with beltings at the hands of Sydney and Fremantle dashing West Coast's aura of invincibility.

The Eagles face another major challenge on Friday night when they host Geelong.

Sheppard said the players wanted to recapture their intensity from the first half of the season.

"Looking back at it now, the first half of the year we've shown the football world and we've shown everyone in the competition how good we can play," he said.

"We want to be feared again, as being the most intense side and the best pressure side in the AFL. I'm sure we can do that, starting off this Friday and for the remaining month of the season.

"It's a big month of football for us to try and set us up for the finals.

"I know it's the old cliche, taking it one week at a time, but we just need to start taking some scalps, and it starts this week against Geelong."

Sheppard denied the team had lost focus by believing it was already certain of playing finals.

West Coast are fifth but only a win and percentage ahead of ninth-placed Fremantle and have a far tougher run home.

"The players have never got ahead of themselves," Sheppard said. "We're working just as hard off the track now as what we were at the start, if not harder.

"It's one of those things. It's a fickle game, footy. If you're off that one or 2 per cent, sides really, really hurt you. But we've addressed those issues and it's a thing of the past now."

Meanwhile, West Coast will clash with Hawthorn on the Friday night to launch round 23.

The AFL finalised the last round of the fixtures yesterday, with the Eagles pencilled in for a blockbuster against the Hawks, allowing them to return home early for week one of the finals.

The Eagles will catch a late flight after the match.

"We're trying to get the Eagles home as early as possible, and they've organised a flight for that night," AFL scheduling manager Simon Lethlean said.

"They're a top-five side at the moment, and deserve to be preparing for their finals series by getting home."