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Kennedy, McEvoy, de Boer are Going, Going, Gone

McEvoy vs Essendon (file photo)

Three more veteran players joined this year's group of retired players. Matt de Boer, Ben McEvoy, and Sydney's Josh Kennedy. Just ahead of Round 22, GWS midfielder Matt de Boer, 32, announced his immediate retirement due to the lingering effects of a concussion he suffered in mid-June. He ends his career on 223 games, 138 of which were played for the Dockers before he joined GWS. It was at GWS he cemented his reputation as one of the game's most effective taggers. He was a crucial part of the teams that made it to the finals, including the 2019 Grand Final loss to Richmond.

In making the announcement, de Boer said, The Giants ... and its people is truly a special place ... “My heart is unequivocally full of gratitude and love for the friendships, memories and opportunities that playing in the AFL has availed me. “I’d particularly like to thank Leon Cameron for believing in me and challenging me always to be the best version of myself. I’d also like to thank the Fremantle Dockers for first recruiting me...".

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Two Forwards Shelve the Sherrin

Kennedy Celebrates a Goal

Eagle forward Josh Kennedy and Port forward Steven Motlop both announced their retirements ahead of Round 21. The game against the Crows was Kennedy's last while Motlop bowed out immediately. Kennedy, 34, was expected to retire at the end of the season, but a knee issue saw him decide to call time sooner. He was originally drafted by Carlton and played for the Blues for two seasons before being traded to the Eagles in exchange for Chris Judd. Many believe the Eagles got the better of the deal given Kennedy's longevity and goal scoring, in spite of Judd winning his second Brownlow Medal with the Blues.

In a club statement Kennedy said, “It’s been a privilege to play so many years at this great football club and I’ll forever be grateful for the opportunity to represent the West Coast Eagles and Carlton There are so many people to thank for helping me on the journey over 17 years. Obviously my wife Lauren and daughters Sage and Lottie, my family who always supported me, coaches John Worsfold and Adam Simpson, club staff and of course my teammates. Footy and the West Coast Eagles have given me so much and I’ve loved the journey. I’ve made lifelong friendships and learned so much from champions like Dean Cox, Darren Glass, Luke Shuey, Shannon Hurn and Mark LeCras ... My knee is a big reason ... my drive to play is still there, but I’m realistic my body is not going to be able to take me to another season. To be able to farewell West Coast supporters one last time at Optus Stadium and say thank you for the incredible support over the years will be the perfect way to finish my career.”

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Eagles Break Drought

Cripps kicks

The West Coast Eagles ended a club record losing streak of nine consecutive losses by beating the Essendon Bombers at Optus Stadium. It was the Eagles' first victory at their home stadium in eleven months and the lively home crowd enjoyed the ride in a game where the lead changed nine times. The Bombers pushed away to an early lead in the first quarter with Jake Stringer finding plenty of space and booting the first goal. The Eagles' first goal came three minutes later when they worked the ball out of defense to Josh Kennedy, who marked and kicked truly. From there the Bombers took control and produced three goals. The first, a good snap by Matt Guelfi from a stoppage near the goals. The second by Stringer after a turnover in the center and the third by Peter Wright after the Bombers had transitioned from defense. The Bombers were running and the Eagles had lead boots. The first quarter was played mostly in the Bombers' half of the ground. A rare change of play saw Jack Darling complete a clever one-handed mark (catch) and convert, which inspired the home team.

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Cats Jump Into Top Four

Hawkins booted goal 700

The Geelong Cats moved into the top four after doing enough in blustery conditions to beat the West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium. The Cats have had a heavy couple of weeks on the training track, as they build their strength for the end of the season. They looked lethargic for much of the game but won critical balls when challenged to keep a determined West Coast Eagles under control. The Eagles were strengthened by a number of stars returning from injury and will be pleased with their improved performance against a strong team.

The early signs for the Cats looked good as Tyson Stengle burnt off a pack of chasing Eagles to handball to Brad Close, who goaled without much pressure. However, the Eagles were a different team to the one that played the first half of the season. They contested the ball with a new found hardness and with their more-experienced players tasting leather, ball movement became purposeful. Reward came after eight minutes when Willie Rioli received a free kick and goaled. The Cats played Jeremy Cameron away from the goals to draw the Eagles intercept marker (catcher), Jeremy McGovern, out of the play. The Cats' full forward Tom Hawkins appreciated the space to move, but was closely shadowed by the Eagles' fullback Tom Barrass. With Cameron and Hawkins not scoring, the Cats placed greater reliance on their small forwards. Tyson Stengle slipped in for an early goal after an excellent kick from Cameron on the boundary. Then Sam Menegola sharked a loose ball to snap the Cats' third major.

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Hungry Tigers Eat Eagles

Shai Bolton (file picture)

The West Coast Eagles were eaten alive by a hungry Richmond Tiger outfit that is determined to regain lost prestige. The proud Tigers finished twelfth in 2021 and were determined to show the football world that they still had what it takes to rip a team apart on a Friday night stage. Their first goal came after Eagles’ captain Luke Shuey dropped a mark (catch) and Kane Lambert launched an attack, where Jayden Short kicked to Jason Castagna who marked and kicked truly.

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AFL Life Memberships and Jack Titus Award Announced

Grant Birchall vs Jordan Roughead

In early February, the AFL announced the next inductees for life membership and the Jack Titus Award, which is given annually for service to the game. The awards and the memberships will be officially presented at the league's AGM in March.

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Show Time In The West

Seven Goals to Kennedy (File photo)

The high-flying West Coast Eagles dominated fellow premiership favorites, the Collingwood Magpies, in a game that was more of a show for the Eagles than a game of football. While there was no running onto the arena from the inside of an inflatable Eagle and no show girls dancing, there was still plenty of razzle-dazzle as West Coast rang rings around the befuddled Collingwood Magpies. Freak goals from either pocket by Josh Kennedy and a near-certain behind (worth a point) converted to a goal (worth six points) by Oscar Allan (courtesy of a freak bounce of the ball and frozen Collingwood defenders) added to the entertainment. Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley succinctly surmised after the game. "We played our Washington Generals role really well today to the West Coast Globetrotters." The allusion to the Harlem Globetrotters was appropriate, as the Eagles could do nothing wrong and the Pies could do little more than spectate after the early going, as the Eagles put on a demonstration of classic dry weather football.

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Undefeated Power Crunch Eagles

Port Adelaide Power continued their bright start to the season with a convincing win over the West Coast Eagles. Port Adelaide played rugged no-nonsense physical football, where they used their muscle to crunch the opposition in the packs; and then distribute the ball to their unheralded outside players, who moved the ball quickly to unsettle opposition defenses. West Coast were hoping the fine conditions would finally allow them to play their possession and clean delivery game; however, the Power rarely gave them space and dictated the game from within the packs.

Charlie Dixon marks as Robbie Tarrant reaches to tackle
Dixon against the Roos in 2019

Big forward, Charley Dixon, dominated the air in the Port forward line and finished with six goals. To the casual observer, it may seem that Dixon was a one-man band, but it was a team effort.

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AFANA AFL Power Poll - Round 19

Cripps Prepares to Dominate

The Brisbane Lions claimed another victim, this time it was Hawthorn down in Tasmania to keep the Lions atop the AFANA AFL Power Poll and all but end the Hawks chances of finals football. Fellow pacesetter the West Coast Eagles, made light work of the Kangaroos at home. Geelong overcame a slow start to claim a win against Sydney on the road and Richmond proved too strong for an injury-hit Collingwood in the Friday night blockbuster at the MCG.

Essendon survived quite a scare at the hands of cellar dwelling Gold Coast before prevailing in what was their fifth win in a row, Greater Western Sydney found enough to scrape home against Port Adelaide by a solitary point in Heath Shaw’s 300th game. The Western Bulldogs kept their top eight chances alive with a big win over Fremantle and the Adelaide Crows left the gate open for another team to snatch 8th spot as they went down to an in-form Carlton at the MCG. Finally, Saint Kilda kept interim coach Brett Ratten’s record spotless by overcoming Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night.

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AFANA AFL Power Poll - Round 16

Nic Nat Leads the Pack

It has taken until the completion of round sixteen, but the reigning premiers are back at the top of the AFANA AFL Power Poll after thumping cross-town rivals Fremantle by 91 points on Saturday. The Eagles win coincided with Geelong going down to an improved Western Bulldogs and Collingwood being run over in the last quarter by Hawthorn on Friday night, signaling a change in not only the AFANA Power Poll but betting markets all over the country.

The Brisbane Lions announced to the rest of the competition that they are not only big improvers but a genuine threat to the top four with an away win full of merit against the fancied Greater Western Sydney Giants. Port Adelaide continued it's up and down season by crushing the favored Adelaide Crows in the "Showdown" at Adelaide Oval and the resurgent Kangaroos had another comfortable win, this time over a faltering Saint Kilda.

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