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Kennedy the hero in Eagles thriller



Champion West Coast Eagles forward Josh Kennedy has clinched a sensational victory over Richmond, kicking a stunning boundary line snap in the final minute of a pulsating clash in front of 50,834 fans at Optus Stadium.


Kennedy's four majors proved decisive in the 13.7 (85) to 12.9 (81) result, the Eagles rallying from 22 points down halfway through the last quarter to kick the final four goals of the match, moving a game clear of the reigning premiers in the process.


With 90 seconds remaining, Eagles captain Shannon Hurn had the ball on his goal-line.


In scenes reminiscent of West Coast's 2018 grand final triumph over Collingwood, the Eagles rolled the dice and worked their way forward, with Liam Ryan running onto a loose ball before drilling a low pass to Kennedy 35m out from goal.


There was some debate as to whether the pass travelled the necessary 15 metres.


Kennedy, who was best on ground, calmly nailed the snap from the boundary to give West Coast the lead.


Richmond star Dustin Martin had a chance to win the match with 10 seconds remaining when he unleashed a shot from 55m while on the run and under pressure.


But the kick didn't have enough legs in it, with Hurn marking just metres from goal to secure the victory.


Ruckman Nic Naitanui was influential with 20 disposals, 31 hitouts, five clearances and a goal, captaining the Eagles for a second straight match and kicking the Eagles opening major with a superb snap from the right forward pocket.


Kennedy kicked truly with his two set shots, while at the other end Bolton missed two gettable shots - including one snap that went out on the full when a teammate was free near the goal square.


Richmond threatened to tear the game open with a four-goal burst during the second quarter, and they pulled clear again in the final term off the back of Bolton's brilliance.


But there was another twist to come, with Jake Waterman's booming goal kick-starting a run of four straight majors that saw West Coast snatch victory.


Eagles coach Adam Simpson hailed his side's best win of the year.


"We’ve played with a lot of spirit the last couple of weeks and our young kids have stood up as much as our leaders.


"It was a great response from our players in the last 10 minutes. We hung in there.


"Probably Richmond overall played a bit better than us for the four quarters, but when it mattered most I thought we made the most of it."


The Eagles now head in to their week off knowing they will regain stars Tim Kelly, Luke Shuey and Jeremy McGovern in the coming weeks, their top four hopes still very much alive after prevailing in one of the games of the season.


IMAGE: The West Australian.