The West Coast Eagles survived a second-half fight back by the Geelong Cats, to pull themselves back into finals contention. The Eagles, coming off three consecutive defeats, had been criticized for not laying tackles and not winning their share of contested balls. They responded with a determination to compete and to not let Geelong’s rampant midfield have a free run into attack.
Despite the Eagles' pressure, Geelong launched the first two attacks; and when Nakia Cockatoo marked the ball opposed to experienced Eagles’ defender, Will Schofield, it looked like the Eagles were being lined up to lose another game. Schofield; however, repaid the debt five minutes later when he won a free kick for a solid tackle on Cockatoo, just thirty meters from the Eagles’ goal. The big man kicked truly and it was game on. The Eagles used their trademark tactic of pressing players around the ball. The free-wheeling Geelong midfielders could not break free and the contest wavered between alternating ends of the ground in tightly contested packs. Dangerfield was outstanding in the first quarter for Geelong, dishing out ten hand passes and getting five kicks, but the pressure in the packs affected the other Geelong midfielders who were not permitted time to finesse the ball. The Eagles scored three more goals in the latter part of the term with big men, Jack Darling and Drew Petrie, outpointing their opponents and creating valuable goals.
West Coast opened the second quarter with a quick goal to Liam Duggan. Geelong then increased their commitment in the packs with Mitch Duncan and Irishman, Zac Tuohy, assisting Dangerfield with clearances. Zac Smith and Rhys Stanley alternated in the ruck for Geelong to have a slight advantage over the Eagles’ Nathan Vardy and Mitch McGovern. McGovern played mostly in the forward line when not rucking but could not find the big opening. Geelong’s sole goal for the quarter was kicked by Daniel Menzel who sat on the end of a well-weighted Harry Taylor kick. The Eagles then also found goals hard to find, until Cripps at the start of time-on (time added to the quarter for stoppages of play in the first 20 minutes of the quarter); received a free kick on the 50-meter line and kicked truly. Then, with a minute to go McGovern scooped up a loose ball and spun out of a pack to handball to Dom Sheed who goaled from the square. The Cats had won more clearances but were still restricted by the intensity of the Eagles’ tackling and had only kicked two goals at the long break.
Geelong found more space in the third term with Taylor and Stanley both finishing good midfield work with goals. The highlight for the Eagles was Lewis Jetta gathering a loose ball amid four Geelong players, who watched him turn on a dime to shoot a pass to Sheed, who then marked and kicked their only goal for the quarter. West Coast’s goal shooting was off target, they added five behinds for the quarter. At the other end of the ground, Steven Motlop produced his own piece of individual brilliance when he fended off Andrew Gaff to steady and score a late goal for Geelong.
In the last stanza, Geelong threatened when they got to within 12 points of the Eagles at time-on. However, Gaff snapped a clever goal from a pack two minutes later; and then a coast to coast transfer of play by the Eagles sealed the result, when Gaff kicked long to Jetta who marked and goaled. Two late goals to Stanley and Menzel gave some respectability to Geelong’s total, but it was too little too late for the visitors who allowed the Eagles to pressure them out of the game in the first half.
Next week, Geelong return home to the Cattery where they will be expected to defeat the Fremantle Dockers. West Coast have the rare luxury of consecutive games in Perth, to host the Melbourne Demons and should tighten their grip on a place in the top eight.
Scores West Coast Eagles 4.3 7.9 8.14 11.17 (83) Geelong Cats 1.2 2.3 5.6 10.10 (70) Best West Coast Eagles: Mitchell, Gaff, Shuey, Jetta, Darling Geelong Cats: Dangerfield, Duncan, Tuohy, Guthrie, Stanley
Article last changed on Thursday, June 15, 2017 - 5:04 PM EDT