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.
The Sydney Swans didn’t just defeat the West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium, they comprehensively thrashed them to hand the Eagles their biggest home game loss in the club’s history. The Swans were without Buddy Franklin, who has made a habit of tormenting the Eagles at Optus and veteran midfielder, Josh Kennedy, who was rested for the game. The Eagles virtually rested their own Josh Kennedy in the first quarter as the ball rarely got near their big forward. The Swans had a massive 21 forward entries in the opening term, while West Coast could only manage four. Sydneys’ reserve ruckman Peter Ladhams dominated in the ruck to highlight the extended absence of the Eagles’ ruckman Nic Naitanui. The Eagles' midfielders Elliot Yeo, Tim Kelly and Luke Shuey, who were all returning from extended layoffs, barely touched leather in the opening quarter as Sydney’s Callum Mills, Isaac Heeney and Errol Gulden did as they liked. Tall forwards Hayden McLean and Logan McDonald dominated in the air and kicked two goals apiece and a busy Ben Ronke booted a goal after two early misses. The lopsided first quarter score line flattered the Eagles as Sydney missed some very gettable shots.
A few days after the Semi-finals, West Coast announced three departures. Mark Hutchings and Brendon Ah Chee were delisted and ruckman Nathan Vardy retired. Hutchings, 30, played 120 games in nine seasons. He was a member of the 2018 Grand Final and played a key role in the game, shutting down Magpie star Steele Sidebottom.
Ah Chee, 27, was originally drafted by Port Adelaide in 2011 and played 27 games with the Power before being traded to the Eagles at the end of 2017. He was delisted and re-rookie listed by the Eagles at the end of 2019. He played 28 games for the Eagles. Vardy, 30, was drafted by Geelong in 2011 and played 25 games for the Cats before being traded to the Eagles at the end of 2016 and played 52 games including the 2018 premiership.