The West

West Coast assistant Peter Sumich still rates Geelong as the benchmark of the AFL and says that taking on the red-hot premiership favourites is a bigger challenge than facing unbeaten St Kilda.

The Eagles were smashed by 97 points when they played the Saints in round three, but the Cats' clinical dismantling of Essendon on Sunday reaffirmed the two-time premiership full-forward's stance.

"I know St Kilda are going very well but I stayed over and watched Geelong versus Essendon and they were pretty awesome and in great nick," Sumich said.

"(It will be) a good challenge for us and hopefully we can bring that margin right back, I think it was an average of just over 100 points, so we want to make sure we bring that right back."

The Eagles have a horror recent record against the Cats, who have won 52 of their past 55 games in the most dominant run by any team in history.

In round 13, 2008, Geelong dished out a record 135-point hiding to West Coast at Subiaco Oval and followed that up with a 99-point belting of the Eagles at Skilled Stadium nine weeks later as they prepared another assault on the premiership.

"We haven't actually (talked about last year's results), but I think it's in the memory bank of a few players and the coaching staff that were there," Sumich said.

West Coast's last win over the Cats was a three-point triumph three years ago, when Ben Cousins and Daniel Kerr shared 62 possessions, two goals and four Brownlow Medal votes.

Neither will play on Sunday, with recovering drug addict Cousins now at Richmond and Kerr, who was adjudged best on ground in that victory, suspended after an off-the-ball hit on Carlton midfielder Marc Murphy.

One of several new pieces in the Eagles' coaching puzzle this season is former Collingwood captain Scott Burns, who was a part of the Magpies team which was one of only two to beat Geelong last season.

Burns, who had just 14 disposals but laid an above-average seven tackles in the Pies' 86-point win at the MCG a year ago, will play an important off-field role in the build up to Sunday's contest as he attempts to pass on the knowledge gained from that game.

"Scott's given us a bit of information on that and hopefully we can take bits and pieces out of that," Sumich said.

"I don't think we're a side that Collingwood were last year in the physical department, they were a very mature side, but there's a starting point for us.

"Some of these young blokes have got stand up, with our tackling especially, it's been down marginally, and the physical side of the game."

Chad Fletcher has been recalled to replace the midfield experience West Coast lost through Kerr's suspension while an injury cloud still hangs over Matt Priddis.

Sumich would neither confirm nor deny that he would apply for the coaching post at Richmond vacated by Terry Wallace when the process begins, but is expected to do so after going close to landing the Essendon job at the end of 2007.


The West Australian

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