Despite injuries to top talent including Mark LeCras and Andrew Embley, the West Coast Eagles remained at the top of the Ladder as they flew into Melbourne to take on the improving Richmond Tigers. The bookmakers had installed the visiting Eagles as solid favorites, however a quick look at the recent results between the two teams at Etihad Stadium showed the Tigers with a 3-0 advantage. For Richmond it was a chance to notch a win against top class opposition – something it had threatened to do all season without being able to close the deal. For the Eagles it was a perfect opportunity to consolidate a Top Two position on the Ladder and a springboard to the Finals.
Hawthorn has never won a Twilight game at Patersons Stadium and facing an in-form West Coast team at home, it was going to be hard to win their first. The Hawks were minus some quality players due to injury while the Eagles were fielding a strong team. The game was tipped to go down to the wire and in the end it lived up to that expectation.
Melbourne has had a tough time against the West Coast Eagles over the years, particularly when traveling to their fortress, Patersons Stadium, winning only eight times in the last 28 matches. The Demons were trounced last week in an emotional game after the passing of their club President and playing hero Jim Stynes. Today was another serving of the same medicine as the Eagles went all out to crush their spirit.
Brook Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA from Australia
With the home and away season in the books, it’s time for footy fans to turn their attention to important matters. Eight teams are about to embark on what should be a fascinating Finals campaign. With so much at stake, which players will take the next step and write themselves into AFL folklore? All who watch know the magic that gun players such as Dane Swan, Chris Judd, Adam Goodes, Buddy Franklin, Dean Cox, Joel Selwood and Nick Riewoldt are capable of week in week out, but what about the lesser lights who have hit some form at the business end of the season?
In this series, AFANA will focus the spotlight on players who might seemingly come out of nowhere to power their teams through September in a quest for Premiership glory. This is a chance to run the slide rule over each of the Finals' combatants by picking one player from each team, players who may just be the 2012 Finals X Factors.
Keeping their fairytale season on track, the West Coast Eagles moved into fourth position on the Ladder with a decimation of arch rivals Essendon. The Bombers ran out of legs and players as the game wore on in very warm, late winter conditions in Perth.
In recent years, Patersons Stadium has been a fortress for the West Coast Eagles against Richmond with 12 of the last 14 matches going West Coast’s way. The Richmond Tigers had been given no chance of winning the Round 20 encounter, particularly with the Eagles celebrating 25 years in the competition and knocking on the door of a Final Four berth. Tiger fans hoped that with nothing to lose, Richmond might come out with a hunger to play and rain on the Eagles’ parade.
Round 8 marked the thirty-third Western Derby between the Fremantle Dockers and the West Coast Eagles. This game is the showpiece for Western Australian football fans with Fremantle having won the last seven meetings between the two teams. West Coast dominated in the early years winning the first nine games. A near capacity crowd of 40,567 had great expectations of a home team (Eagles) win, but before the ball had been bounced they were in for some disappointing news.
Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Subiaco Oval
At every West Coast Eagles home game a huge seven foot wingspan Wedge-tailed Eagle flies around the stadium as part of the opening entertainment. Things looked grim for the home team when the eagle did one round of the stadium and wanted to come in to land. Tired? No heart? Was this a harbinger of the Eagles versus Melbourne match to come?
A bumper crowd of 41,654 watched Matthew Pavlich become one of only three Fremantle Docker players to reach the 200 game milestone, joining former team mates Shane Parker and Shaun McManus in the illustrious 200 club. In a Western Derby played in two starkly contrasting halves, Pavlich started slowly and had minimal influence until after half time. Moving into the center of the ground in the third quarter, the Captain imposed his strength and willingness to go in hard after the football and turned the tide of the game.
Coach Rodney Eade traveled west once again with the Western Bulldogs to take on the West Coast Eagles who were coming off a demoralising loss to Saint Kilda the previous week. The Bulldogs enjoy an impressive winning record at Subiaco Oval and with an unbeaten record in the first three rounds, there were justifiably high expectations of another win.