The West Coast Eagles survived a spirited second-half challenge by the Gold Coast Suns, to position themselves for a move into the top eight. After two consecutive thrashings, the Eagles were expected to work back into form against the young Suns; and that is what they did in the first half. The Eagles started slowly, put the Suns to the sword in the second quarter; but then struggled as the Suns fought back in the second half.
Gold Coast had a winner in the ruck with Jarrod Witts dominating Nathan Vardy. This allowed the Suns to challenge the Eagles in clearances and keep the Eagle defenders under pressure. In the first quarter, both teams entered their respective attacking 50 meter zones the same number of times. Gold Coast attacked by kicking long to their tall forwards Josh Corbett and Peter Wright. These two were well covered by the Eagle defenders, Jeremy McGovern, Tom Cole and Oscar Allen. In contrast, the Eagles launched their attacks from defense. Their players spread wide to create space and loose men. They used quick transitions and precision kicking to target their big forwards who out-marked (out-caught) their opponents in one-on-one contests. Josh Kennedy started well by kicking two goals for the Eagles. Other Eagle forwards were less accurate and several attacks were wasted by poor goal kicking.
Gold Coast started the second quarter positively, by mimicking the Eagles with a quick transition from defense to see Peter Wright boot their second. Instead of zone defense, Gold Coast played man on man to limit the Eagles’ breakouts. Sam Collins played closely on Josh Kennedy and closed him down for the rest of the game. However, Suns defender Jack Hombsch struggled with Jack Darling’s mobility. Darling replied to Wright’s goal with one of his own and then five minutes later booted two in two minutes to put his stamp on the game; as the Eagles racked up five unanswered majors to build a comfortable lead by half time. Despite Witts dominating the ruck, the Eagles broke even with clearances and were far more effective in using the ball. Andrew Gaff got plenty of leather, but it was Lewis Jetta who stood out in the second term with his scintillating delivery. Jack Martin and Jarrod Harbrow tried hard for the Suns but were overwhelmed by Gaff, Sheed and Luke Shuey.
The third quarter saw Gold Coast make eleven consecutive entries into their attacking zone and lock the ball in their forward line for long periods. The Suns matched the Eagles in contested possessions as they got numbers to the ball. The Eagles defended desperately, with Hurn and Brad Sheppard using short kicks to slow the tempo of the game and keep the lively Suns out of the game. However, Jack Martin and Jarrod Harbrow were in everything for Gold Coast and were also supported by Anthony Miles. The Suns used long kicks to bypass the Eagles’ midfield defense. Despite their endeavor, skill errors in the midfield cost Gold Coast dearly. The Suns control of the ball restricted the Eagles’ ability to score, and if not for skill errors at crucial moments, the Eagles would have been in real trouble.
In the final quarter the Suns fought desperately to match the Eagles for contested possessions all over the ground. David Swallow and Brayden Fiorini pushed the ball into the Suns’ attaching zone at every opportunity. Jack Martin also lifted his game for the Suns, but it was Jeremy McGovern who stood up when it counted for the Eagles. McGovern’s timely intercepts stopped, potentially deadly, Sun attacks. Despite this, the Suns booted three unanswered goals through Wil Powell, Peter Wright and Alex Sexton to close the gap to just 11 points by the 21-minute mark. However, at the next center bounce the Eagles got the ball to Jack Darling, via some good work from Gaff on the wing. Darling kicked truly to stop the Suns’ run of goals. Two minutes later young Eagle speedster, Jack Petruccelle, moved the ball to Elliot
Yeo who sealed the game for the Eagles. The home crowd breathed a sigh of relief as the Eagles moved back to the winner’s list. The young Suns can be pleased with their second half, which suggests they will win more games this season. Questions remain about the Eagles. They did enough to win, but not enough to suggest they are anywhere near their form of last year.
Next week Gold Coast return home to meet Melbourne. The Eagles travel to Marvel Stadium to play the St Kilda Saints.
Scores West Coast Eagles: 3.6 8.8 9.12 11.14 (80) Gold Coast Suns: 1.3 2.5 5.8 8.9 (57) Best West Coast Eagles: Gaff, Yeo, Hurn, Sheppard, Jetta, Sheed Gold Coast Suns: Harbrow, Witts, Martin, Swallow, Miles
Article last changed on Monday, May 06, 2019 - 8:39 AM EDT