Shuey versus Crowley is a chance to atone
Josh Kennedy congratulates Luke Shuey. Picture: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Luke Shuey has the chance to make a statement and bury his tagging demons in the western derby at Patersons Stadium on Sunday as Fremantle stopper Ryan Crowley appears to have faded as a force this season.

West Coast's game-breaking midfielder has been humbled in his past two derby appearances when Crowley was his direct opponent.

Shuey, 23, was restricted to 12 disposals in round one last year against the Dockers and 11 possessions while being shaded by Fremantle's specialist stopper in round 19, 2012. The Eagles lost both matches.

However, the form of the two key players is at different ends of the spectrum leading into the 39th western derby and an expected repeat of the match-up.

Shuey is averaging a career-high 24 disposals this season, to go with seven goals in five matches, and has shown progress in his ability to overcome close-checking taggers.

Crowley's influence on games has been limited coming off an interrupted pre-season.

The 30-year-old, renowned as one of the club's fittest footballers and the holder of its bench press record, had evolved into one of the Dockers' most feared players by last year's finals series.

He kept his direct opponent to less than 20 disposals on nine out of 23 occasions last year.

The scalps in his trophy cabinet from the home-and-away season included Joel Selwood, Travis Boak and Marc Murphy.

Crowley capped off a superb year by blanketing Sydney's Kieren Jack in Fremantle's preliminary final triumph before keeping former Hawthorn skipper Sam Mitchell to just 12 possessions as one of the Dockers' best in their losing grand final.

This year, Crowley has failed to keep his man under 20 disposals in all six matches.

His declining effectiveness has mirrored Fremantle's form slump and been highlighted in two of the club's worst losses for a long time.

Mitchell ran riot in the first half of Hawthorn's resounding round-three win despite Crowley's close attention, before Dockers coach Ross Lyon asked his tagger to concentrate on winning his own ball.

North Melbourne veteran Brent Harvey also turned the tables in last Friday night's Len Hall tribute match, racking up 29 disposals in his side's 13-point win at Patersons Stadium.

Lyon said after the match it was unusual to see Crowley beaten.

North Melbourne counterpart Brad Scott said fatigue may have contributed to Crowley not being able to shut down Harvey.

"I saw a stat - and I had to double-check it - that Boomer (Harvey) was involved in 20 of our 24 scoring shots," Scott said.

"That's an incredible effort. I think Ryan was probably blowing a bit from fatigue.

"It's hard to be aggressive when you're fatigued." DID YOU KNOW? 24 The number of disposals West Coast's Luke Shuey is averaging this year

The West Australian

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