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.
The Fremantle Dockers returned to the winning list by dominating the undermanned West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium. The Eagles had made thirteen changes to their side from the previous week, with several stars returning from injury and Covid protocols. However, the team appeared underdone and flat footed as they offered little resistance to the pacy young Dockers.
West Coast started well with Josh Kennedy booting a goal in the first five minutes. From there it was all Dockers apart from Eagle defenders Jeremy McGovern and Shannon Hurn, who battled manfully in defense against the Docker onslaught. It was only the Dockers’ inaccuracy in front of goals which kept the Eagles within striking distance until the eleven-minute mark of the third quarter.
The Gold Coast Suns celebrated their first away win against the West Coast Eagles in a performance that showed the growing maturity of the young Suns. Matt Rowell played his strongest game for the Suns, since returning from injury, to re-ignite the hype surrounding his brilliant entry to league ranks. The Suns’ new captain Touk Miller was inspired by his young charges and steadied the Suns at crucial parts of the game. Izak Rankine was dangerous up forward and used his growing maturity to steady when needed and kick four goals for the visitors. The Eagles were missing six of their ten best players but were well served by the enthusiasm of their young reserve players Luke Foley and Jamaine Jones. Former Richmond player, Patrick Naish, seized his chance to impress.
The AFL has announced their annual life members and the winners of the Jack Titus Award for service to the game. The life membership awards will officially be presented at the league AGM in March. Nine players and coaches qualified automatically by reaching the total of 300 games as either player or coach, including preseason games and international rules.
The Collingwood Magpies defeated the West Coast Eagles in an epic battle by one point, to knock the Eagles out of the final series. The Eagles had been unbeatable in their seven home ground games this year but were knocked off their perch when it mattered most. The Pies were thrashed by the Eagles at Optus Stadium earlier in the year and few pundits expected them to come out of a COVID-19 lockdown and trouble the home team. With their respective seasons on the line, both teams began the match nervously with players dropping marks (catches) and fumbling the ball in the opening minutes.
In a Friday night (Melbourne time) Semi-Final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Geelong Cats picked themselves up from their previous week's loss to the Collingwood Magpies, to keep their finals hopes alive and defeat the reigning Premiers, the West Coast Eagles. The Cats had been under intense media scrutiny all week, as many pundits predicted the Cats would again drop out of the finals series with two straight losses. The Eagles too had their own mid-week drama to deal with, as small forward Willie Rioli was handed a provisional suspension for interfering with a urine test administered by the Australian Sports Anti-doping Authority.
The Cats opened the game with a burst of goals. Their plan was clear. Run the ball through the middle of the ground, using handpassing and accurate kicking to catch the Eagle intercept markers [mark = catch] out of position. After nine minutes of play the Cats had booted three goals, keeping West Coast scoreless. Geelong's Captain Joel Selwood continually put his body on the line and midfielders Tim Kelly and Cameron Guthrie used their pace and ball skills to break the Eagles defensive lines. The Eagles abandoned their zone defense structure and played a man-on-man defense,
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.
In an open fast-moving game, the West Coast Eagles survived a spirited challenge from the Melbourne Demons to win by sixteen points. The hard running Demons challenged the reigning premiers throughout the match by outpacing the Eagles in the center corridor. However, when their legs tired in the last quarter, the Demons resorted to kicking long into attack; which suited the intercept marking of Shannon Hurn and Jeremy McGovern - and the Demons were gone.
The West Coast Eagles survived a spirited second-half challenge by the Gold Coast Suns, to position themselves for a move into the top eight. After two consecutive thrashings, the Eagles were expected to work back into form against the young Suns; and that is what they did in the first half. The Eagles started slowly, put the Suns to the sword in the second quarter; but then struggled as the Suns fought back in the second half.
Port Adelaide Power used speed and wet weather grunt to comprehensively thrash the West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium. The Eagles fielded a team unsuited to the conditions. It was cold, wet and windy and a team loaded with three tall forwards and two ruckmen, would always struggle in the slippery conditions. The Power lacked the height of the Eagles but they made up for it with midfield muscle and quick ball movement.