Allen leads Eagles past Suns
A career high four goals for West Coast Eagles forward Oscar Allen was the catalyst for his side's 25 point triumph over Gold Coast, overcoming a three quarter time deficit at Optus Stadium on Sunday.
The Suns led by seven points less than a minute in to the final stanza when Nick Holman snapped truly, only for the Eagles to kick five unanswered goals to seal a 12.11 (83) to 8.10 (58) triumph in front of 38,493 fans in warm conditions in the west.
West Coast began in blistering fashion in the final match of round one, kicking three goals in two minutes to start the contest with Allen kicking two goals either side of a Jack Darling major.
But the young Suns gradually worked their way back in to the contest as they gained the ascendency around stoppages, their speed worrying the Eagles without star midfielders Elliot Yeo (groin) and Luke Shuey (hamstring).
In his first game back from a shoulder injury that ended his stunning debut season young midfielder Matt Rowell was an early casualty, suffering a left knee injury that saw him substituted from the game at quarter time.
Allen snapped his third goal to give West Coast a ten point buffer early in the second but the Suns again worked their way back to parity thanks to a crafty Lachie Weller snap and a Ben King mark and goal that put the visitors in front.
A big contested mark and goal from Darling gave the Eagles the lead at the half, Josh Kennedy extending the margin to 11 early in the third courtesy of a free kick before the Suns hit back through Touk Miller and King's third goal from a costly Liam Duggan turnover.
Suns skipper David Swallow snapped truly to give his team the lead once more in a see sawing term, Nic Naitanui producing some brilliance from a boundary line throw in to set up Jamie Cripps, the margin one point at the last change in favour of the visitors.
Nick Holman, who came in to the game for Rowell as the medical substitute in the second term then pushed that lead beyond a goal in the opening minute of the last, the Suns sensing the opportunity to secure their first ever win over the Eagles in Perth.
West Coast lifted with their home crowd urging them on, Kennedy soccering his second major before Dom Sheed set up Allen for his fourth, the Eagles pushing away from their opponents when Nathan Vardy marked and converted his snap from the left forward pocket.
Liam Ryan kicked the sealer on the run in time on after the 2020 All-Australian had been well held for most of the day by Connor Budarick, Adam Simpson's men avoiding a scare to win their first match of the season.
Dom Sheed stood tall in midfield to finish with 34 disposals for the winners, former skipper Shannon Hurn had 31 at 98% disposal efficiency and Tim Kelly had 28 touches and 5 clearances.
West Coast coach Adam Simpson praised his experienced players for lifting late in a game that felt "a little bit different to normal", with the tackle count a lowly 39-33 as both teams tried to control possession.
"I think the players just went to another level, our guys," Simpson said.
"They've probably been around a bit longer than some of the Gold Coast boys and they elevated in the contest and got some good field position … we won the important contests."
Jack Bowes stood tall down back with 30 disposals at 100% efficiency to be one of his side's best, Swallow with 29 disposals to go with his third term major and Jack Lukosius 23.
The Eagles will face the Western Bulldogs at Docklands next Sunday, while Gold Coast face North Melbourne at Carrara in their first home fixture of the 2021 season.
IMAGE: West Coast Eagles Twitter.