After breaking through for a maiden win in 2018 in Round 2, the Eagles made it a maiden win at their new home ground with a stunning six goal surge in the final ten minutes. The visiting Cats had stormed their way to a 15 point lead heading into time on of the last quarter, after earlier trailing by 32 points at half-time. On the back of a superb second half performance from Gary Ablett and Patrick Dangerfield, the Cats held the Eagles goalless in the third term and booted six themselves to steal a narrow three quarter time lead.
Tom Hawkins was the beneficiary up forward, as he twice beat Jeremy McGovern and also had the better of Tom Barrass on a third occasion to kick two quick goals. It should have been three, but a desperate hand from McGovern on the mark meant the Eagles remained within a goal at the final change.
The Cats – coming off a six day break – seemed to have the answers in the final term, but when Ablett pinged a hamstring, the momentum of the game changed. Ablett became the Cats’ third causalty of the day – joining Cam Guthrie and Nakia Cockatoo – and with just one fit player on the bench, the Cats wilted. Nic Naitanui had one final say in the game, controlling the ruck as West Coast overran Geelong to bank the four points.
While it may have seemed that West Coast had stolen the win at the death, it was a deserved result after they were the far better team through the first half. The Eagles dominated in all facets, except on the scoreboard, where inaccurate kicking wasn’t reaping their rightful reward. A tense second quarter – where neither side could find a major – was broken apart by three quick goals to Liam Ryan, Luke Shuey (from the resultant centre bounce) and Andrew Gaff right before half-time, which appeared to be too much for the beaten Cats to chase. Geelong were ultimately gallant in defeat, but the Eagles had the matchwinners when the game was on the line.
WCE 4.6 7.9 7.11 14.11 (95)
GEE 2.2 2.7 8.10 11.14 (80)
Perth Stadium Crowd: 54,535
GOALS WCE LeCras, Ryan 3, Sheed, Darling 2, Gaff, Naitanui, Redden, Shuey.
GEE Hawkins 3, Ratugolea 2, Fogerty, Menzel, Bews, Kelly, Menegola, Tuohy.
Best of the West
Dom Sheed had a coming of age game and after teasing his capabilities a couple of years ago when West Coast went all the way to the big dance, he may finally be ready to step up in the midfield. Fans and coaches alike have been expecting Sheed to rise to the inside midfielder role vacated by Matt Priddis, and with 30 disposals and two goals, Sheed was a clear best on ground. His – and the rest of the Eagles midfielders – cause was helped by another dominant performance in the ruck by Nic Naitnaui. Despite playing less than 60% game time, his influence was profound, both in the second term when West Coast made their run, and again in the final term surge which secured the four points.
Brad Sheppard was the Eagles’ best defender and stood resolute during the third quarter onslaught as Geelong stormed back into the contest. As well as providing plenty of run, Sheppard held the dangerous Menzel to just one goal, and did so all on one leg after receiving a nasty cork in the opening term. Luke Shuey and Andrew Gaff were both dynamic through the middle, while Liam Ryan continued on from his heroics in the second quarter as the livewire forward. Ryan booted two first half goals, and then a third which put West Coast back in front late in the game. Jake Waterman also had his most impressive game as a lead up forward, collecting 20 disposals and nine marks as the link up target from defence.
Eagle Eye Votes
ROUND 3 SEASON LEADERBOARD
5 Dom Sheed 9 Shannon Hurn
4 Brad Sheppard 5 Mark LeCras
3 Nic Naitanui 5 Dom Sheed
2 Luke Shuey 4 Nic Naitanui
1 Andrew Gaff 4 Luke Shuey
Edge of the Nest
All players had a moment during the game although Jackson Nelson was again quiet. Nelson had just the seven disposals, and found himself matched against Darcy Fogerty who could have had a day out, but finished with 1.4. Admittedly though, Nelson had a couple of key plays in the final quarter as West Coast made their charge. Daniel Venables only had nine disposals after a promising effort against the Bulldogs, but may hold his place with the long term injury suffered by Liam Ryan. Willie Rioli is another who didn’t rack up the possessions, but he looks as though he isn’t far off showing his full wares on the AFL field.
WAFL Report & Selection Forecast
The Royals made it consecutive wins in the WAFL with a comfortable 58 point victory over rivals West Perth and a number of Eagles played a part in the win. Luke Partington was a standout with 33 disposals and two goals in a welcome return to form after a slow start. Partington has barely been sighted through the pre-season and appears to have lost his half-forward role with the batch of youngsters introduced this season.
Malcolm Karpany had 26 running through midfield, and chose an excellent time to put his name towards selectors, with a forward pocket spot opening up with Liam Ryan’s injury. Francis Watson also had his best game at East Perth this year with 21 touches from half-back and Fraser McInnes was best on ground in the ruck with 24 disposals, 31 hit-outs and two goals. The journeyman is unlikely to find his way into the eagles line up unless there is a spate of injuries to West Coast’s big men. Draftee Jarrod Brander was also impressive in the forward line with 19 disposals, 10 marks and 3.3 for the afternoon, and could push for a forward role at the expense of father-son Jake Waterman.
Liam Duggan was a late withdrawal for the Cats and seems set to return while Josh Kennedy has all but declared himself available for the Suns. The Eagles may want to give the key forward one more week just to be sure with Kennedy set to come straight into the side as soon as he is cleared. Nathan Vardy and Brendan Ah Chee are also set to return from injury but with East Perth having a bye next week, they may have to bide their time before cracking in for an Eagles appearance.
IN: Karpany, Duggan
OUT: Ryan, Nelson