Janet Linn reporting for AFANA from Subiaco Oval
After a bleak start to the 2010 home and away season, the West Coast Eagles finally broke the drought to defeat a disappointing Essendon side at Subiaco Oval. In a two team town where West Coast has always reigned supreme, the early buzz has been all about the Fremantle Dockers’ brilliant start which has been in marked contrast to some uninspiring performances by West Coast. Finally in Round 4 the Eagles found some winning form and scored their first victory of the season.
Nic Naitanui was on fire from the first bounce down, winning the ruck tap, following up the ball and giving Mark LeCras an easy shot on goal. A free kick gave Naitanui the chance to score West Coast’s second goal and first gamer Ashton Hams earned a goal assist when he passed to Josh Kennedy who capitalized. West Coast were slamming Essendon in the clearances as Naitanui dominated the ruck contests. There were positive signs from veteran Eagles ruckman Dean Cox, busy around the forward line and snapping a goal from the pocket. It was a quarter for the big men with Essendon’s ruckman Patrick Ryder featuring prominently and scoring two goals for the Bombers. Michael Hurley took a terrific mark then goaled to take the lead for the Bombers only to see it snatched away in the final seconds by a clever soccered goal from LeCras in the square. West Coast took a slim four point lead into the quarter time huddle.
It was a Groundhog Day start to the second quarter when Naitanui manufactured a superb run and carry out of the ruck and gave off a handball to Ebert who kicked West Coast’s sixth major. The Bombers fumbled the ball and played a stagnant brand of football. Under the Eagles determined pressure, Essendon turned the ball over 21 times as it rained goals for the home side. Matt Rosa, Ashley Hansen, Andrew Embley, Adam Selwood and LeCras shared the goal scoring glory while the Bombers could only manage a meager four points for the quarter. When the half time siren rang, the Bombers faced a 39 point deficit and looked done for. The only bad news for the West Coast was an injury to Daniel Kerr who pulled a hamstring muscle in the last 30 seconds of the quarter and took no further part in the game.
Essendon played slightly better football in the third quarter, using the center corridor to find a more direct path to goal. However, try as they might, they made no headway on the scoreboard. In a lackluster and low scoring quarter the West Coast managed two goals through LeCras and Mitchell Brown. After remaining goalless for 49 minutes, the Bombers managed a solitary six pointer from ruckman David Hille. Essendon coach Matthew Knights had no shortage of things to talk about during his three quarter time address.
With a commanding 45 point lead at the final break, most expected West Coast to forge ahead for a percentage boosting win. However in all their games so far this year, the Eagles have been outscored in the last quarter and this alarming trend continued. Kyle Reimers, Cal Hooker, David Zaharakis, Hille and Hurley kicked good goals for the Bombers and made the final scoreline more flattering for the visitors. Josh Kennedy produced two goals, both from free kicks, but overall it was a poor quarter of football from the Eagles in front of their home crowd. The final margin was 23 points in favor of West Coast.
In the final analysis, the Eagles produced three quarters of competitive football, the Bombers produced two and that was the difference on the day. Although West Coast would have been happy to win their first game for the year there are still plenty of question marks over their ability to play a high standard of football over four quarters. Nic Naitanui was the big positive playing an exciting brand of football reserved for the true champions of Australian Rules Football.
For Essendon, there was not much joy at all. Winning the last quarter was a step in the right direction and the return of some important players from injury will no doubt help produce better performances. Nevertheless there was something missing from the Bombers in this game. Players did not run as hard as usual and the famous Bomber fight was only evident in glimpses. It is hard to see either of these sides featuring in Finals football in 2010.
Scoreboard West Coast 5.5 11.8 18.104.22.168 (101) Essendon 5.1 5.5 6.7 11.12 (78) Best players West Coast N Naitanui, M Priddus, M LeCras, D Glass, A Embley Essendon D Fletcher, D Hille, D Zaharakis, T Colyer, T Pears
Article last changed on Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - 3:53 PM EDT