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Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Patersons Stadium, Perth

In the "battle of the birds", the West Coast Eagles completely outclassed their smaller avian cousins the Collingwood Magpies, with a 60 point thumping in their Round 20 clash at Patersons Stadium. Collingwood were the favorites in the match, having beaten the Eagles in seven out of their eight previous encounters. However the Magpies rarely go on the road and looked out of touch and out of legs for much of the game.

West Coast scored first and were never headed, playing the brand of football that - had they produced it earlier in the season - would have certainly put them in Finals' contention. Their big men were plunking goals as a result of sleek movement through the middle coupled with consistent clearances from the bounce downs. Aided by a significant breeze, the Eagles opened up a four goal lead with Josh Kennedy - lively and moving well in the forward zone - kicking two of them. West Coast had to activate their substitute early in the game when Xavier Ellis took a hard tumble in a marking contest. He looked to have damaged his right shoulder and Dom Sheed took his place on the field.

It wasn’t until the second quarter that the Pies steadied and began to trade goals with the Eagles. They scored two early, none better than Jesse White’s who received the ball after some sparkling movement through the center of the ground by his teammates. Captain Scott Pendlebury rose to the occasion and began to win the ball from the center. Pendlebury is a master with ball in hand, delivering it with precision and confidence with every possession. Turning up the midfield pressure, the Pies slowly clawed their way back into the match, kicking accurately and outscoring the Eagles. They trailed by 17 points at the main break.

Collingwood's resurgence was short lived however. The Eagles came out of the change rooms after the main break and kicked five unanswered goals to effectively bury the opposition. The Pies were outworked by the Eagles who were sprinting to every contest, cheered on by the home town crowd. The Magpies were flat-footed and lethargic and seemed resigned to getting a belting, barely raising a whimper the further the game went on. By the end of the third quarter the Magpies were 48 points adrift and in need of a lifeboat.

To their credit Collingwood came out fighting in the fourth quarter and Jamie Elliott fired a shot when he darted around the West Coast defenders to score a clever goal. That was enough for the Eagles and they scored the next four goals to give the Pies a caning. Jack Darling played a cracker of a game when he finally got off the leash, scoring four goals in the final quarter. The big timber in the forward line was finally kicking into gear, albeit half a season late. In contrast the Collingwood forward six were dysfunctional and one dimensional. It is clear that Travis Cloke needs another quality key forward to help out in the scoring department. If he doesn’t fire then neither do the Magpies.

As always at this time of the year there is a team of statisticians working on the probabilities of teams making the Top Eight. Their calculations would make a rocket scientist’s blackboard look simple. Both of these teams have a chance of Finals but with only three games to go in the season, it will take luck and the cards falling their way for either of them to make it. There are just too many variables in play - Collingwood’s percentage is poor and the Eagles need more wins than they have even with a crackerjack percentage. The next games will tell. West Coast play Essendon away while Collingwood take on a Brisbane Lions outfit that has shown some fight of late.

West Coast:  6.5 9.7 15.10 19.12 (125)
Collingwood: 2.1 7.2  8.4  10.6  (66)

Best Players
West Coast:  Priddis, Shuey, Hurn, Kennedy, Darling
Collingwood: Pendlebury, Elliott, Beams, Reid

Article last changed on Monday, August 11, 2014 - 8:24 PM EDT

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