Eagles power past gallant Blues
West Coast has overcome a half time deficit for a second straight match, seeing off a plucky Carlton outfit by 22 points at Optus Stadium.
Trailing by as much as 19 points midway through the third term, the Eagles midfield lifted in a sensational ten minute burst that saw them kick five goals, recording their sixth win in a row 11.6 (72) to 7.8 (50) in front of 19,092 fans.
With the Blues within four points in the last term Dom Sheed showed his clutch goalkicking ability hasn’t wavered since his 2018 Grand Final heroics, snuffing out any hopes the visitors had with two goals in the space of five minutes.
West Coast began the game promisingly under gloomy skies, Andrew Gaff kicking the first goal of the game after getting the end of a Jack Darling footpass inside 50.
The Blues made the most of their opportunities down the other end as they began to get control of the ball in their forward half, goals to Sam Fisher and Sam Walsh putting them in front late in the opening term.
A controversial holding the ball free kick against Sam Petrevski-Seaton and a subsequent 50 metre penalty gifted Darling a goal and a quarter time lead for the home side.
Usual defender Brad Shepperd pushed forward to snap the opening goal of the second term, but it was as good as it got for the Eagles as the Blues assumed complete command, kicking the next three goals with local product Fisher in everything, finishing with three majors for the half.
David Teague’s side lost prime mover Jack Martin to a calf injury early in the second term and ruckman Marc Pittonet spent more than half an hour off the ground with an apparent hand injury, youngster Tom De Koning stepping in to the breach admirably to match it with star ruckman Nic Naitanui.
Fisher’s fourth goal had Carlton 19 points up early in the second half, but West Coast found another gear as spearhead Josh Kennedy broke clear of tight checking Blues defender Jacob Weitering to kick two goals, Jamie Cripps and Darling adding goals of their own to reclaim the lead.
Jarrod Cameron ran in to an open goal in the final minutes of the term to give the Eagles an 11-point lead at the final break, a Will Setterfield snap bringing Carlton back within a kick early in the last.
With the game in the balance Sheed showed his class with two quality finishes on his favoured left boot, the first from deep in the left forward pocket on the run and the second a fine finish from 40 metres.
A contested mark and goal from Jake Waterman shut the door on the Blues hopes of an upset, West Coast closing it out for a sixth straight win to maintain their spot in the top four.
Sheed was his side’s best player with 26 disposals, 9 clearances and two crucial goals, Tim Kelly with 23 disposals and Elliot Yeo 22 to go with nine clearances of his own.
The Blues were best served by former skipper Marc Murphy who had 23 disposals, Sam Walsh (20) and captain Patrick Cripps (19) also influential.
Eagles coach Adam Simpson was impressed with his side’s fight after a poor second quarter.
“It shows good resilience to come back. But there are no easy games. We’ll take this one and cherish it. Beating a side that is very good in the contest, we’ll walk away happy,” he said.
“We knew Carlton we’re going to come all day. We are a good side, but we are no different to every other team in the comp. Our leaders took it to another level.”
West Coast will play Hawthorn next Sunday back at Optus Stadium, while Carlton will face Fremantle off a six day break at the same venue next Saturday night.
IMAGE: Herald Sun.