Eagles back on winners list
West Coast has broken a three game losing streak with an impressive 34 point win over Sydney at Metricon Stadium on Saturday.
The Eagles overcame a sloppy start and the loss of captain Luke Shuey to a left hamstring strain in the opening term to kick eight goals to three after quarter time, recording an 11.11 (77) to 6.7 (43) triumph that breathes life back in to their season.
Sydney started the better of the two teams, capitalising on several West Coast turnovers through the middle of the ground to kick three of the game’s first four goals.
The Eagles began to gain the ascendency around the clearances through ruckman Nic Naitanui, late goals from young forwards Oscar Allen and Jake Waterman reducing the Swans lead to three points at the first change.
Shuey was ruled out of the match at quarter time with a hamstring injury, leaving Adam Simpson’s men without one of their premier midfielders for most of the game.
Elliot Yeo, Andrew Gaff and Dom Sheed lifted in his absence, as did the Eagles pressure around the ball as they began to control the game and play the match in their forward half.
For all their dominance they only led by five points at the half, with West Coast spearhead Josh Kennedy missing a sitter moments before the major break.
The dam wall eventually burst in the third term on the back of more Naitanui dominance in the air, Jamie Cripps snaring his first two goals of the season as the Eagles pushed away from the Swans.
The first three goals of the final term made an absolute certainty of the result, Oscar Allen with three majors in a strong showing up forward, well supported by young tyro Waterman.
Brad Shepperd continued his superb season with 21 disposals in a commanding shut down role on Swans small forward Tom Papley, who only managed one late consolation goal.
Naitanui dominated all day in the middle, winning 39 hitouts (ten to advantage) and seven clearances amongst his 11 disposals, while Yeo had 21 touches to go with nine clearances as the most impactful midfielder on the ground.
Eagles coach Adam Simpson was relieved to get back on the winners list, particularly impressed by his younger brigade.
“Intensity, pressure on the game, field position. The younger boys I thought were important for our spirit and a sign of our future,” he said.
“We don’t live in the roller coaster that is projected. Our players have really good resilience. I wasn’t losing it last week and I’m not going to get carried away this week.”
“There’s no magical thing. It’s about how we want to play, how to deny the oppo. We haven’t been too good in our second half, so I put that challenge to them. Our leaders did their bit.”
“We won, but we’re behind the eight ball. Adelaide is our next challenge. We’ll recover, do our normal routine and prepare for that.”
The Eagles face the Crows in their final match as part of their Queensland hub next Saturday at the Gabba, before returning home to Perth.
IMAGE: Fox Sports.