Brave Eagles fall short against Roos
An undermanned West Coast produced a gallant performance against North Melbourne at Docklands, Nick Larkey's six goals the difference in the Roos 15 point victory on Sunday.
The Eagles were forced to make 14 changes from their round one loss to Gold Coast, utility Jackson Nelson going out moments before the bounce with a knee injury to compound a number of missing players to the AFL's covid health and safety protocols.
Willie Rioli kicked the first goal of the match after a sublime Liam Ryan pass, his first of two goals for the term as West Coast performed admirably in the opening term with so many first choice players unavailable, only six points down at the first change.
North began to gain control in the second term with inside 50 dominance, Larkey looking imposing on first game tall Callum Jamieson as he nabbed four first half goals.
A late Bailey Williams goal kept the Eagles in touch at half time, an arm wrestle again playing out in the third term as the teams traded goals and momentum.
Both teams were forced to use their medical substitute, Luke Davies Uniake out of the game early in the second term with a head knock and Brayden Ainsworth tweaking his ankle.
North Melbourne were a man down for the second half with Tarryn Thomas suffering a rib injury, the Eagles winning the third term by a point to narrow the margin to 17 points at the last break.
Covid top-up player Aaron Black produced one of the moments of the afternoon for West Coast, the 29 year old West Perth captain slotting a goal on the run on his left foot on his AFL debut.
Adam Simpson's side kept pushing the Roos but were left to lament missed opportunities, star forward Jack Darling missing a simple set shot that would have reduced the margin to under two goals with eight minutes remaining.
Larkey would have the final say for North Melbourne, slotting his sixth goal to seal the result for his side, 10.14 (74) to 8.11 (59) in front of 14,204 fans.
Rioli kicked four goals for the Eagles in just his second match back after two years out of the game due to an ASADA drugs ban, the only multiple goal scorer in a gallant effort from the visitors.
West Coast captain Luke Shuey had 23 disposals in his return from a hamstring injury, while former Richmond player Patrick Naish provided run and spark with 21 disposals.
Jeremy McGovern was also outstanding in defence with 18 disposals and 9 marks, standing tall along with Shannon Hurn in a vastly inexperienced outfit.
New Roo Hugh Greenwood was outstanding in midfield, winning a game high 29 disposals along with captain Jack Ziebell, who claimed 14 marks to go with his 29 touches.
North head to the Gabba to face Brisbane in round three, while West Coast will hope to welcome back plenty of their stars for a Western Derby date with Fremantle next Sunday at Optus Stadium.
IMAGE: Fox Sports.