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Chris Kowald reporting for AFANA from Domain Stadium, Perth

The West Coast Eagles overcame indifferent form to make use of the wind and fly past the Carlton Blues in the last quarter. In doing so, the Eagles kept their finals hopes alive for one more week. The Blues were brave and dashing in their play. Their players matched the Eagles as the home team pressed players towards the contest; and when the ball came loose, Carlton used pace to expose the Eagles with leg speed. If not for the heroics of Eagles forward Josh Kennedy, who kicked six goals, the Eagles’ season would have ended at the hands of a team some considered a candidate for the wooden spoon.

Carlton kicked with the strong wind in the first quarter. The small home crowd was silenced in the first five minutes when Carlton booted two goals via Marc Murphy and Jed Lamb. Carlton did most of the attacking, making eighteen forward entries to the Eagles’ nine for the quarter. However, Carlton did not deliver well to their forwards, allowing Jeremy McGovern to take three intercept marks (catches) and spoil other Carlton marking attempts. When the Eagles did attack they were efficient, with Jamie Cripps showing his best form in kicking three goals for the quarter and Jack Darling booting one.

In the second quarter West Coast appeared to blow the game apart by scoring five unanswered goals. The Eagles dominated in the first half of the quarter as Josh Kennedy became the focal point; and he responded with three goals. The Blues fought back towards the end of the quarter with Matthew Kreuzer doing good work in the ruck and Bryce Gibbs and Marc Murphy winning possessions in the midfield. However, the wind played havoc with the Blues’ goal shooting and they missed goals that would normally be sure things. The Blues also missed their final chance to score for the quarter when Levi Casboult played-on from a set shot, to kick to Murphy in a better position, just as the siren sounded. Murphy’s mark was disallowed. By the long break, Carlton had made 32 forward entries for just three goals and West Coast had scored nine goals from just 17 forward entries.

Carlton came out firing, in the third quarter, with first-year player Jarrod Pickett displaying scintillating football on the wing and Casboult and Charlie Curnow taking strong marks in attack. Sam Kerridge also lifted his rating as Carlton matched the Eagles in contested possessions. Carlton's midfield players used determined tackling to stop West Coast in their tracks. Young Carlton wingman Blake Boekhorst gave his experienced opponent Leroy Jetta a lesson, as he gained crucial possessions to launch Blues’ attacks. Carlton booted six unanswered goals to take the lead. The lead would have been much more if not for the solid defensive work of the Eagles' McGovern and Eliot Yeo. Kennedy leveled the scores just before three quarter time with set shot goal after he was illegally held in a marking contest by the inexperienced Tom Williamson.

West Coast made good use of the wind in the final quarter to make twenty forward entries to Carlton’s six. More importantly though, West Coast won the quarter by winning both contested possessions and clearances from stoppages; and out-tackling Carlton. Nathan Vardy had been shaded by Kreuzer in the ruck but he dominated in the last quarter, allowing Sam Mitchell and Luke Shuey to frequently take first possession of the ball. Murphy and Gibbs fought on for Carlton but were beaten by weight of numbers, as the Eagles pressed players into the congestion. A goal to Casboult at the thirteen-minute mark gave Carlton some hope of an upset victory, but then Eagles’ rookie Luke Partington laid a great tackle to win a free kick and goal. At the next center bounce, Shuey cleared to Kennedy who passed to Jack Darling who kicked a goal to shut the gate on Carlton. The Blues fought on bravely to score two more goals through Casboult and Curnow, but the Eagles answered on each occasion via Kennedy and Jack Redden respectively.

West Coast’s win against lowly Carlton lacked desperation for most of the game and was unconvincing. A flight east to meet Greater Western Sydney will demand much greater commitment, if the Eagles are to remain in contention for the finals by upsetting the star-studded Giants. Carlton show encouraging signs of progress, but may find Hawthorn too much of a challenge at Etihad Stadium next week.

West Coast Eagles 4.0 9.2 10.4  15.10 (100)

Carlton Blues     3.3 3.7  9.10 12.11 (83)


West Coast Eagles: Kennedy, McGovern, Yeo, Redden, Mitchell

Carlton Blues : Murphy, Gibbs, Curnow, Kerridge, Pickett 

Article last changed on Sunday, August 13, 2017 - 4:58 AM EDT

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