The West Coast Eagles overcame an early scare to finally dispose of a determined North Melbourne outfit at Domain Stadium in the second Preliminary Final. Despite going into the game as rank underdogs, it was the Kangaroos who made the early running by winning the contested ball and using the ball much better than their favored opponents. The Eagles could only manage two minor scores in the first quarter as their highly vaunted attack was starved of opportunities by a fired up North Melbourne. If not for some wayward goal kicking by Kangaroo forwards Jarrad Waite and Ben Brown, the visitor’s 20 point quarter time lead could have been much greater. Kangaroo coach Brad Scott used two traditional taggers in Ben Jacobs and Sam Gibson who blanketed Eagle play makers Luke Shuey and Andrew Gaff in the early going.
With West Coast struggling to make any inroads into the Kangaroo lead early in the second quarter, it was left to gun forward Josh Kennedy to create some magic with a sensational mark and goal to get the home team rolling. The 43,000 predominantly pro-Eagle crowd could sense the fight back was on and despite North Melbourne’s continued pressure the Eagle defense came to the fore. Sharrod Wellingham was outstanding down back for the Eagles, turning defense into attack on numerous occasions. Kennedy was causing the Kangaroos defense plenty of headaches as he kicked his second goal for the quarter. A late Luke Shuey goal from a dubious free kick brought the Eagles to within just five points of the Kangaroos at half time.
Jack Darling goaled from what seemed a soft free kick 14 minutes into the third quarter and the Eagles suddenly had all the momentum. The small contingent of North Melbourne fans showed their displeasure at the umpiring, but it was all in vain as Dom Sheed and Shuey goaled again to give the Eagles a handy 21 point buffer at three quarter time. Matt Priddis was starting to have his usual influence and while North Melbourne remained competitive around the ground, their goal kicking accuracy completely deserted them as they registered four straight behinds after Shaun Higgins eighth minute goal.
The Eagles were never threatened in the final quarter as they dominated forward play without completely putting the Kangaroos away due to some inaccurate kicking. Whilst the game didn’t reach any great heights, it was a torrid affair that would have had Eagles' coach Adam Simpson smiling in the knowledge that his team could work its way out of a physical “shut down” style of game.
West Coast now advances to its first Grand Final since 2006, where they will face Hawthorn, not only appearing in its fourth Grand Final in a row, but aiming for a franchise first three-peat of Premierships from 2013-15.
Scoreboard West Coast: 0.2 3.8 8.14 10.20 (80) North Melbourne: 3.4 4.7 5.11 7.13 (55) Best Players West Coast: Wellingham, Priddis, Sheed, Ellis, Kennedy, LeCras North Melbourne: Swallow, Goldstein, Higgins, Harvey, Wright, Dal Santo
Article last changed on Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - 12:54 AM EDT