Kennedy hurt as Eagles see off Roos
Updated: Sep 18
West Coast didn't have it all their own way, but did enough to see off North Melbourne by 15 points in it’s final home and away match of the season at Metricon Stadium on Thursday night.
The 7.7 (49) to 4.11 (35) result puts the Eagles inside the top four but will need one of Geelong or Richmond to lose their round 18 matches in order to stay there, a home elimination final the most likely result in the opening week of finals.
The club also faces a nervous wait on the fitness of star forward Josh Kennedy, who injured his left ankle late in the second quarter and was subsequently ruled out of the match.
The Roos started the match with more intent than their highly fancied opponents, the 17th placed North keeping the Eagles scoreless in the opening term while kicking 2.4 with goals to Shaun Higgins and Nick Larkey.
Needing a spark in the second term it was Liam Ryan who provided it for West Coast, working his way in to the game after a possession-less opening quarter playing on Roos defender Luke McDonald.
Jack Darling dribbled a goal from the boundary line to get his team on the board, before Ryan first set up Brayden Ainsworth for a major and then went one better himself, weaving his way through traffic from inside the boundary and kicking truly from 35 metres.
With Rhyce Shaw’s men not able to kick a goal for the term it was West Coast who led by a point at half time, Kennedy out of action after landing on his awkwardly on his left ankle in a marking contest late in the term.
Oscar Allen made it four straight goals for the Eagles with the first of the second half after a great run down chase of McDonald, but the Roos responded through Cam Zurhaar to bring themselves back in to the contest.
North Melbourne controlled the remainder of the quarter in dewy conditions that made ball control difficult but failed to capitalise on the scoreboard, veterans Todd Goldstein and Jack Ziebell squandering simple opportunities in front of goal to see scores locked up at the final change.
With the game in need of a hero it was young gun Allen who lifted his team in the last stanza, kicking back to back goals to break the back of the Roos.
An errant Goldstein handball gifted Ryan his second goal to give West Coast the biggest lead for either team in the match, Jed Anderson able to pull one back late but not quite enough for North with the Eagles rounding things out for a gritty if not unspectacular triumph.
Andrew Gaff (26 disposals, four centre clearances) and Dom Sheed (23, five clearances) were the best of West Coast's understrength midfield, while Nic Naitanui won his ruck battle with Goldstein.
Defenders Jackson Nelson, Shannon Hurn and Brad Shepperd were also among their side’s best, while Ryan was best afield with his 15 disposals and 2 goals, providing several moments of magic in a game where fumbles and skill errors were the norm.
Young Roos midfielders Jy Simpkin (32 disposals) and Jed Anderson (30 disposals and 5 clearances) were outstanding in the clinches, while McDonald had 28 touches across half back.
Eagles coach Adam Simpson dispelled any fears of a serious injury for spearhead Kennedy post match.
“We’ve got to see how he pulls up tomorrow. It looks like he rolled his ankle. He’s walking around now,” he said.
“We came here to win. North played with real spirit. They have been decimated by injury as well. They hit hard and they didn’t allow us to play well. Our leaders stood up in the last quarter.”
West Coast now return home to Perth, their next move determined by what happens over the course of the remainder of round 18 while North Melbourne’s season is over, still a chance of winning it’s first wooden spoon in 48 years should Adelaide upset Richmond on Saturday.
IMAGE: Fox Sports.