It couldn't have looked much worse for the West Coast Eagles. Last week the Eagles were smashed 205 points to 34 by the thirteenth placed Sydney Swans. The Eagles' reserves team mirroring their senior team by anchoring the ladder of the local competition, were yesterday thrashed by East Fremantle 215 to 31. Their best player Tim Kelly was ill and unable to play against the St Kilda Saints - and the Saints gunning for a percentage boost (percentage calculated by dividing points for by points against) to get them into the top four. The Saints had their first goal on the board after just fifteen seconds of play courtesy of youngster Mitch Owens. The script said the Saints would win convincingly but the problem was that the Eagles hadn't read the script.
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.
The West Coast Eagles cruised to victory over a dispirited Hawthorn Hawks in a game where the Hawks never threatened one of the premiership favorites. The game started in dry conditions which suited the West Coast high leaping markers (catchers) and the Hawks were held scoreless in the opening quarter, as West Coast dominated. If the Eagles' goal shooting had been straight the match would have been over at quarter time. When the Hawks did attack, they were stopped in the air by Jeremy McGovern, who was returning from injury, and Tom Barrass, who together formed a defensive block taking 17 marks and 19 intercept possessions between them for the game.
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,
In front of the largest crowd for a sporting event in Western Australia history (59,608), the West Coast Eagles demolished the Melbourne Demons in a one sided contest that crushed the Demon faithful. It took Melbourne a full half of football before they scored their first goal of the match and left their supporters bereft at what might have been in 2018.