Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Patersons Stadium, Subiaco
Much has been hoped for from West Coast and Melbourne this year after both teams had disappointing seasons in 2010. For their Round 6 encounter in the west, weather conditions were perfect for football and a close game was tipped.
In a first quarter that brought back memories of their heyday, the Eagles came out and played classic football. They had 13 disposals to four in the first three minutes. In his first season Jack Darling is proving to be a real find in the forward line and he got the Eagles on the scoreboard first. Veteran Andrew Embley has reinvented himself this seaon as a midfielder come forward and kicked the next one as the Eagles ran rings around the spiritless Demons. The Demons failed to score a goal in the first quarter and were down by 31 points at the change.
Nathan Jones put on the afterburners to spring from the middle and kick the Demons’ first goal of the day. There was more intensity in the contests from the Demons after they no doubt received a roasting from the coach during the break. The assault was short-lived however, with the West Coast scoring goals through Quinten Lynch and again to Darling, who is quickly stamping himself as a premier forward. At this point the game was being played on the Eagles’ terms with 34 to 11 inside 50 meter penetrations. To make matters worse, Melbourne were only scoring points when they did attack into their 50 meter arc. As the half wound down, Melbourne showed more grit as Colin Sylvia and Aaron Davey kicked the last two goals for the half. Although they were still trailing by 16 points, the visitors did gather some momentum to go into the second half of the match.
Josh Kennedy scored the goal that Melbourne didn’t want to concede, the all important first goal of the third quarter. The Demons looked a little weak at the knees as the quarter progressed and the Eagles swarmed all over them with increasing tenacity the closer the ball got to their goal line. It is exciting for West Coast fans to witness the intensity of purpose in this young group early in the season. Coach John Worsfold has emphasized full press forward line pressure and this style of play is bringing the club out of the doldrums. Brent Moloney pegged the margin back when he kicked truly for the Demons, but it was soon one-way traffic again. Mark LeCras was welcomed back into the Eagles’ fold after time off with a groin injury and was next to score with a play on kick on goal. Lynch scored soon after from a boundary throw-in close to goals to give the home side a commanding 40 point lead at three quarter time.
A win was in the bag for West Coast when Embley scored first for the Eagles in the final quarter after an unselfish hand pass from Mark Nicoski. A rare turnover resulted in a Jack Watts reply and this breathed some life into a Demon comeback. In a controversial umpiring decision, an Austin Wonaeamirri kick was determined to be a goal by the goal umpire only to be overturned by the field umpire who said he saw it hit the post. In days gone by, the goal umpire was the sole judge in scoring decisions. However in the modern game, goal umpires’ decisions can be overturned by the central field umpire. On playback the ball clearly hit the post so the correct decision was made. This goal turned point marked the capitulation of the Demons as they were outscored by four goals to one to finish the match. Melbourne’s sole goal was from a miskick and turnover when Inspector Clouseau look-a-like Lynden Dunn kicked truly from 30 yards out. Darling, Nicoski and Matt Rosa put the Demons to the sword and the Eagles ran out comfortable winners by 54 points.
Melbourne has not won a match in the west since 2004, incurring 11 losses over that time. Captain Brad Green said after the match that “Not hitting up a target and turnovers cost us the game.” The Eagles look reborn while Melbourne will struggle to make the Finals. Next round Melbourne will take on a resurgent Adelaide while the Eagles look forward to a tough encounter with in-form Essendon.
Scoreboard West Coast 5.3 7.8 10.12 15.16 (106) Melbourne 0.2 3.6 4.8 6.16 (52) Best Players West Coast: M Priddis, S Butler, B Ebert, M Nicoski, D Cox Melbourne: C Garland, J Watts, C Sylvia, N Jones, M Jamar
Article last changed on Friday, May 06, 2011 - 8:09 AM EDT