Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Subiaco Oval
At every West Coast Eagles home game a huge seven foot wingspan Wedge-tailed Eagle flies around the stadium as part of the opening entertainment. Things looked grim for the home team when the eagle did one round of the stadium and wanted to come in to land. Tired? No heart? Was this a harbinger of the Eagles versus Melbourne match to come?
Ben McKinley started with a bang for West Coast, kicking a goal within the first minute. The game then deteriorated to a scrappy affair with both teams missing targets in the midfield and few scoring shots. In an extraordinary snap shot on goal, Melbourne's Matthew Bate booted a fifty meter kick to an empty goal square. The ball looked certain to bounce through but landed on the goal line and bounced backwards. Then to add insult to injury, it bounced again and rolled through for a minor score. It wasn't until the 15 minute mark that Addam Maric kicked the Demon's first goal. In an error filled quarter, Mark LeCras capitalized on a defender's poor kick-in and scored the Eagles' second goal. The quarter spluttered to an end with a meager nine point lead to the West Coast.
Coach John Worsfold was animated when talking to his team at the break no doubt demanding more spirit and commitment to the contests. Adam Cockie responded by kicking the first goal of the second half. From then on goals were traded and the game opened up with more offense from both teams. The Eagles realized that they were up against a good team while the Demons, having the belief that this was a winnable game, threw everything into it. David Wirrpanda, always a crowd favorite, was a stalwart in defense and turned back numerous attacks with his silky pickup and delivery skills. At the end of the quarter both teams had scored five goals and the stage looked set for an exciting second half. At the major break it was the Eagles ahead by four points.
During the half time break the betting odds flashed up on the main scoreboard. A $1 bet on Melbourne would get you a $4 return. Either the bookmakers were watching a game no-one else was or they were asleep on the job!
Melbourne came out of the blocks quickly to start the next half, kicking the first three goals. The pace was frenetic and the humid conditions suited the home team as Melbourne came to a standstill. The Eagles got to work and Le Cras kicked the next two goals to put the Eagles back in the lead by the narrowest of margins. McKinley added another one and the chant went up from the supporters around the ground. The volume went up a notch when Adam Hunter booted a half chance off the ground for a goal as the siren rang. The Eagles were ahead at the end of the third quarter 78 points to 63.
Daniel Kerr had not yet taken part in the second half. The word from the Eagles bench was that he had a muscle strain and would not go back on the ground. Kerr is capable of a match-winning performance and is the spiritual leader of the West Coast team. As the final term got under way, the Eagles sorely missed his presence on the ground.
Maric started with a goal for the Demons to make the game a closer contest but Eagle Chris Masten quickly countered with one of his own. The work rate of the Eagles had dropped off, possibly sensing that the game was over. Melbourne's Ricky Petterd had every belief that the contest was there to be won and kicked two goals to bring the score within eight points. To the home crowd's relief the game ended with the visitors still looking dangerous. In the end, the Eagles ran out winners in a closely fought and entertaining game.
With thirty scoring shots to seventeen, the Eagles encountered the same problem they had last week when they failed to convert relatively easy shots on goal. This week they had the opportunity to seal the game early but, to their credit, Melbourne took the game right up to them. Had a few more breaks gone their way there could have been an upset in the West. Overall it was an uninspiring win to the Eagles and a great effort from the less skilful, at least on paper, Demons.
Scoreboard WC Eagles 2.4 7.7 11.12 12.18 (90) Melbourne 1.1 7.3 10.3 13.4 (82) Best players WC Eagles D Cox, M LeCras, D Wirrpanda, D Glass, A Cockie Melbourne N Jones, B Miller, J Bennell, A Davey, C Bruce
Article last changed on Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - 9:57 AM EDT