A quirk of the English language is that the collective noun for crows is "a murder". The Adelaide Crows didn't murder the West Coast Eagles, but they did their best to put a damper on the Eagles' farewell celebrations for retiring former captain Shannon Hurn and current captain Luke Shuey, as well as injured star ruckman Nic Naitanui. A quirk in the AFL regulations cost the Crows a position in this year's final series, when a video review of a goal umpire error at the end of last week's one point loss against Sydney, was not applied. (The umpire incorrectly judged a Crow's shot on goal as a behind [worth one point], instead of a goal [worth six points]). The Crows could be excused for feeling deflated and disinterested in the game against the Eagles. They had nothing to gain, apart from perhaps proving a point that they deserved to be finalists. Alternatively, the Eagles had every reason to farewell their three retiring stalwarts with a win. A win for the Eagles was not an impossible dream. The previous week they had defeated the Western Bulldogs, in Melbourne, which ultimately led to the Bulldogs missing the finals. The stage was set for an intriguing contest.
The Fremantle Dockers dominated the West Coast Eagles to give the Eagles their worst thrashing in a Western Derby. In a year where the Eagles have already run up a number of "worsts", they suffered their fifth defeat by more than 100 points. The Dockers, on on the other hand, continued with their strong end-of-year form, in a season which would be rated as a disappointment for the young team. Despite having a couple of late withdrawals due to illness the Eagles started strongly and had made eleven forward entries to their oppositions two by the nineteen-minute mark of the first quarter. After five minutes of early play where defenses held sway, Josh Rotham kicked long to Oscar Allen who took a well-judged mark (catch) against Alex Pearce in the goal square. Allen's goal inspired West Coast and three minutes later Tim Kelly received a handpass to kick on the run from forty-six metres to have the Eagles thirteen points up. The Eagles continued to win clearances and dominate the first quarter, but didn't get value for the forward entries.
The Richmond Tigers defeated the West Coast Eagles to move to within two points of the top eight. The Tigers had moments of individual brilliance, punctuated by long spells of indifferent form as they ground out a victory against the spirited West Coast. The Eagles have been enlivened by the return of some of their best players but ultimately fell short of what was required to overcome the more talented Tigers. The struggling Eagles have now won just three of the past forty-four matches and this year sit at the bottom of the ladder, with just one win, way back in the second round against the GWS Giants. The Tigers have won three of their past four games and are within striking distance of the top eight, but would need to show much more than they did against the Eagles to get ahead of the log jam in front of them.
The Gold Coast Suns easily accounted for the West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium, with a dominant second term and a powerful final term. The Suns won in most areas of play, winning contested possessions 150 to 116 and almost doubling the number of forward entries made by the hapless hosts. The Suns were led by Jarrod Witts who dominated in the ruck and Matt Rowell who collected twenty-nine possessions (13 contested) and laid a season high seventeen tackles. Tim Kelly was strong in the midfield for the Eagles picking up 26 possessions (17 contested) and laying six tackles. First-year player Reuben Ginbey gave him good support in the packs, laying sixteen tackles and picking up twelve possessions (9 contested), but the combination of Rowell, Noah Anderson, David Swallow, Will Powell, and first-year player Bailey Humphrey overwhelmed the undermanned Eagles' midfield.
The Carlton Blues bounced back from two consecutive losses to record a thumping victory against the West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium. The match was never in doubt after half time, as Carlton held ascendancy across the field and dominated on the ball. Charlie Curnow had a day out for Carlton booting nine goals and setting up several others. Patrick Cripps was powerful in the middle for Carlton, gaining 33 possessions (22 of which were contested possessions) and laying eight tackles. The Eagles tried hard in the opening quarter and pushed Carlton in the second quarter. However the home team became spectators for the rest of the match as the relentless Carlton powered to a percentage-boosting victory (Ed: percentage in this case is calculated as the ratio of total points scored divided by points against for the season; it is the tie breaker if teams have identical won-loss records).
The Melbourne Demons hit the West Coast Eagles with a scorching third quarter, using their big-bodied midfielders to tackle and pressure the younger Eagles out of the game. The Eagles were forced to make seven team changes due the injury carnage sustained against Fremantle the week before; and their inexperienced replacements gave it everything they could - and more - until half time. Harassment from the willing Eagles at the fall of the ball worried the Demons out of their usual game style early in the match.
The Fremantle Dockers beat the brave West Coast Eagles, in a game that could prove pivotal for both teams. West Coast had a good outing against the GWS Giants the week before, but their ageing and wounded list was no match for the Dockers who finished full of run. Although the Eagles were expected to lose, the Dockers had been out-of-sorts in their first two outings and had lost to two teams they were expected to beat. The Eagles started brightly with Tim Kelly, Andrew Gaff and Reuben Ginbey matching Andrew Brayshaw, Jaeger O'Meara and Sam Switkowski in clearances. This was despite Sean Darcy and Luke Jackson, dominating Bailey J Williams in the ruck. Darcy finished with an astonishing 52 hit-outs, Jackson had 17 and Williams only had fourteen.
The Western Bulldogs produced an irresistible second half of football to record their highest score and biggest winning margin against the West Coast Eagles. The win allowed the Dogs to sneak back into the top eight after a slow start to the season. Their 6 wins and 5 losses put them within striking distance of the teams above them and sets them up for the second half of the season. West Coast have one win from eleven games, which equals their worst start to a season. The loss to the Bulldogs was also their seventh consecutive loss, all of which had a deficit of 50 points or more. The Bulldogs ruckman Tim English played a magnificent game, dominating the ruck and picking up 25 possessions in general play. It is rumored he will decline offers to return to Western Australia, and in the near future, will sign a new contract to stay with the Dogs.
The West Coast Eagles withstood a last quarter challenge from the St Kilda Saints to secure a place in this year's final series. The Eagles, struggling with injury to eight of their first-choice players and losing defensive linchpin Jeremy McGovern at the main break, looked gone, after St Kilda surged to the lead midway through the final quarter. However a goal to Josh Kennedy and then a sweeping handpass from Kennedy to Tim Kelly, put the Eagles back in front with twelve minutes to play and the Saints were unable to respond.
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.