In an open fast-moving game, the West Coast Eagles survived a spirited challenge from the Melbourne Demons to win by sixteen points. The hard running Demons challenged the reigning premiers throughout the match by outpacing the Eagles in the center corridor. However, when their legs tired in the last quarter, the Demons resorted to kicking long into attack; which suited the intercept marking of Shannon Hurn and Jeremy McGovern - and the Demons were gone.
Melbourne started on fire, with Max Gawn dominating the ruck and Tom McDonald marking and showing great mobility against Eagles youngster Oscar Allen. Nathan Jones and Christian Petracca were dangerous around goals. Jones had the first goal ion the board within two minutes; but three easy misses slowed the Demons’ early charge. West Coast fought back, starting with some good work by Jetta who initiated a forward thrust that finished with Josh Kennedy, who marked and goaled. Some individual brilliance from Willie Rioli, and a free kick to Kennedy, saw West Coast score two more goals.
Max Gawn and Nathan Jones then combined at a stoppage to move the ball forward and see Petracca weave to kick truly. Elliot Yeo was strong in the middle for the Eagles. The Eagles’ defensive strategy was to kick wide and then work the ball along the boundary into attack. In contrast, Melbourne attacked through the middle corridor using run and handpasses to negate the Eagles’ intercept markers. A glittering example was on display at the 22-minute mark, when Clayton Oliver combined with James Harmes and Jayden Hunt to see Hunt finish a brilliant team goal.
In second quarter, Jeff Garlett opened the scoring with a goal for Melbourne. Four minutes later Rioli ran free to mark and boot his second. Melbourne replied quickly through Tim Smith, who read the ball off a pack to gather and kick truly. Melbourne dominated the midfield but missed a series of relatively easy shots on goal. The game then became a game of defenses with players completing some remarkable tackles, including an inspirational shirt ripping tackle by Liam Frost on Jack Petruccelle. However, neither team could find the big sticks until Luke Shuey kicked a long snap at the 24-minute mark. Melbourne dominated the center corridor when moving the ball from defense. If they had kicked accurately, the Demons could have set up a handy half-time lead.
Two early misses in the third quarter frustrated the Demon fans, but after four minutes they launched another quick transition from defense to catch Eagle defenders napping; and Garlett booted his second goal. At the ten-minute mark an excellent tackle by Liam Ryan, in the midfield, caused a turnover for the Eagles, allowing Darling and Kennedy to combine and steady the home team with a goal to Kennedy. The Demons then dominated midfield play but continued to miss shots on goal. Christian Petracca and Garlett booted one goal each to push Melbourne further in front. Against the run of play, the Eagles attacked at the end of the quarter to see Kennedy to kick his fourth goal.
The fourth quarter began with three consecutive goals to Eagles’ small men: Luke Shuey (from the boundary), Jamie Cripps, and Dom Sheed. Melbourne’s Jayden Hunt then showed a piece of individual brilliance in gathering a half volley; and then a minute later leveling the scores at the eleven-minute mark. Seven minutes of intense play ended with an exclamation mark when the Eagles’ small forward, Liam Ryan, flew in the goal square to take a spectacular mark over Max Gawn. Ryan converted and the Eagles were as good as home. Five minutes later Cripps booted a long goal to seal the game. The Demons battled on but missed gettable goals. With seven minutes left to play, a mistake by Melbourne defender Sam Frost, in his defensive goal square, allowed Darling to soccer a goal from point blank range. A missed shot by Angus Brayshaw, with just two minutes to play, summed up Melbourne’s game. They were in with a real chance but blew it.
Melbourne’s ability to trouble the Eagles for most of the game suggests they may have found their form of last year. The Eagles too, are improving each week. They haven’t been playing well but they have still won games and are methodically working their way up the ladder.
Next week the Eagles play Adelaide in Adelaide. Melbourne meet the Giants at the MCG.
Scores West Coast Eagles: 3.2 5.4 7.6 13.7 (85) Melbourne Demons: 3.4 5.8 8.12 9.15 (69) Best West Coast Eagles: Yeo, Hurn, Sheed, Kennedy, Gaff Melbourne Demons: Gawn, Harmes, Oliver, Jones, Hunt
Article last changed on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 - 6:02 PM EDT