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Williams Marks
Williams marks (Dave Woodley/AFANA)

The West Coast Eagles launched a surprise attack on the Melbourne Demons to win convincingly by thirty-five points. The Demons were overwhelmed by the Eagles' attack on the ball and the pressure applied in the midfield. The Demons' defense has been the best in the league, but with linchpin defender Jake Lever injured early in the first quarter, the visitors were unable to withstand the repeated entries of the Eagles.

Teams that have defeated Melbourne recently have concentrated on nullifying the influence of Lever, Max Gawn, and Christian Petracca. With Lever out of the equation the Eagles physically targeted Gawn but he was equal to the challenge. He dominated the hitouts and won six clearances, but the physical buffeting he received in packs reduced his marks (catches) tally to just three. When the ball hit the ground the Eagles' Tim Kelly, Harley Reid, Liam Duggan and Reuben Ginbey swooped to initiate Eagle attacks. Clayton Oliver (nine clearances) and Christian Salem were good for the Demons but were outpointed by the combined Eagles midfield who won more contested possessions, particularly in the first half. Jake Waterman and Jack Darling were the Eagles' main targets up forward with Waterman taking thirteen marks and booting five goals. Darling only took four marks but with thirteen tackles, he kept the Melbourne defenders under constant pressure.

Pickett Passes
Kysaiah Pickett (Dave Woodley/AFANA)

The Eagles set the standard for play early in the first quarter. The Demons were beaten at the ball with the home team winning contested possessions in the midfield and shooting the ball into their attacking zone with precision. Waterman marked strongly for the Eagles first goal. At the other end Caleb Windsor marked and kicked truly from fifty meters to open the Demons' account. An opportunistic goal by Darling was answered quickly when a busy Kysaiah Pickett received a high tackle and converted his free kick into a goal. Former Demon, Jayden Hunt, took a diving mark and booted a goal for the Eagles. At the next center bounce, Harley Reid provided the highlight of the match. Collecting the ball from behind the center circle, he burnt off Petracca and Oliver, took three bounces and booted a running goal from forty-seven meters.

The Eagles continued in the same vein in the second quarter. Tim Kelly, Ginbey, and Reid used pace and physical force to win contests in the midfield. Liam Ryan showed a return to form and confidence and booted an early goal after a flying mark. Petracca stepped up for the Demons and was instrumental in the Demons booting the next two goals through Shane McAdam and Kade Chandler. A forgotten forward, Ben Brown, then slotted a clever goal for the Demons from the boundary to bring the Demon supporters to life. The Eagles didn't get value for effort in the second stanza, with poor goal shooting despite having the upper hand in the midfield. The goal-front accuracy of the Demons had kept the visitors in the game.

After the main break, the Demons contested with more determination and increased their midfield pressure. Kysaiah Pickett was lively and Christian Salem and Alex Neal-Bullen fought with determination to either win the ball or pressure their opponents. Liam Duggan provided a steady outlet from defense for the Eagles and Kelly and Reid matched Melbourne's Clayton Oliver and Todd Viney in the midfield. The Demons worked their way back into the game but missed opportunities as the Eagles defended with desperation. The teams traded pairs of goals with Petracca busy for Melbourne and Reid providing some midfield highlights as he fended off and dodged Melbourne's best players. A clever kick by Tim Kelly found Reid, who was alone with Melbourne's Blake Howard. That was never going to end well for Melbourne. Reid pushed off the defender while gathering the ball and ran into an open goal to boot his second and to extend the Eagles' lead.

Reed Kicks
Reid kicks (Dave Woodley/AFANA)

The final stanza began with a Waterman goal which was answered immediately by Bailey Fritsch for the Demons, who marked strongly and kicked truly. However, by halfway through the quarter the Demons stopped running, perhaps victims of the relatively warm conditions in Perth. Possibly the ten-day break after their one-point loss to Carlton had them off their usual standard. The Eagles finished with unanswered goals to Waterman, Ryan, and Jamie Cripps to hammer home a stunning turnaround in form, just a week after their ignominious thrashing at the hands of Collingwood.

Next week, the Demons have a chance of redemption when they meet the struggling St Kilda Saints. The Eagles will fly to Adelaide to meet the hungry Adelaide Crows, who narrowly lost to the Collingwood Magpies. A win away from their home nest will be a tough challenge for the Eagles.

West Coast Eagles: 4.3 7.8 12.8 16.9  (105)
Melbourne Demons:  2.1 6.1  9.8 10.10  (70)

West Coast Eagles: Waterman, Reid, Kelly, Duggan, Darling
Melbourne Demons:  Petracca, Salem, Oliver, Gawn, Neil-Bullen

West Coast Eagles: Waterman 5, Darling 3, Reid 2, Cripps, Ginbey, Hunt, Maric
Melbourne Demons:  Fritsch 3, Brown, Chandler, McAdam, Neal-Bullen, Petracca, Pickett, Windsor  

Article last changed on Monday, May 20, 2024 - 1:56 AM EDT


Posted by siyog on June 07, 2024

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