It took until the dying minutes of the game for the West Coast Eagles to overcome a spirited Collingwood Magpies in the 2nd Qualifying Final. It was the second trip to Perth for the Pies in as many weeks, and they proved that they are not overawed at the prospect of playing in front of nearly 60,000 hostile fans in the cauldron of Optus Stadium. There were a dozen lead changes over the course of the game and it could have gone either way as time ticked down. Both sides were spent, but it was Lewis Jetta who danced on a dime to put the Eagles in front when it mattered – five minutes out from the final siren.
With just one round to be played before the finals series begins, the top eight is finally taking shape, but there is still plenty to be decided with some big match-ups in the final round. The big winner out of round 22 was Melbourne, which finished strongly against the West Coast Eagles in Perth to book their first finals appearance in 12 seasons, much to the relief of Coach Simon Goodwin. Last year the Demons crashed out of the race late in 2017. Collingwood strengthened its hold on a top four finish with a big win over Port Adelaide at the MCG, effectively ending Port’s finals campaign in the process.
Apparently no one had read the script to the Melbourne Demons. They hadn’t beaten a team in the top eight all season and it was a West Coast Eagles home game, Optus Stadium is a fortress and at 75 degrees, it was supposed to be too hot for Melbourne teams to last four full quarters. All that mattered little when the siren sounded and the Demons put on a display worthy of finalists when they ran over the Eagles in an upset in the West.
From the very first moments it was clear that Melbourne had come to play. They were ferocious in their tackling and hunted the Eagles down in packs all over the ground. West Coast were rattled and started to make disposal errors that played right into Melbourne’s hands.
Chris Kowald reporting for AFANA from Optus Stadium, Perth
The West Coast Eagles remain undefeated and have won their tenth consecutive game, but they left the ground to subdued celebrations after being pushed by a stubborn St Kilda team, who refused to be intimidated by the league leaders.
The cool windless evening suited open play and fast ball movement and West Coast started in hot form. The Eagles had three goals on the board by the eight-minute mark with big men Nic Naitanui, Jack Darling and Josh Kennedy all flying for big marks (catches). Naitanui out marked St Kilda’s Tom Hickey to kick the first goal.
Boris Kilpatrick, special to AFANA from Australia
Almost a third of the way into the 2018 season and round seven gave us some answers while it also gave us plenty of questions. The West Coast Eagles are for real, Richmond are showing no signs of the dreaded “premiership hangover” and the Sydney Swans have seemingly lost their home ground dominance. Hawthorn is once again a contender after moving out the old and adding some ready- made talent.
Chris Kowald reporting fro AFANA from Optus Stadium, Perth
West Coast defeated a gallant Geelong in a game that will be remembered for its extraordinary changes in momentum and fortune. An epic game against Hawthorn, a six-day break and a trip on the road, seemed to have taken its toll on the Geelong midfielders. West Coast started with purpose with repeated pushes forward. After three entries into the attacking zone, Nic Naitanui scrambled the first goal from short range.
The West Coast Eagles climbed back into the top eight by sweeping aside the Brisbane Lions in a one-sided game. The Lions had several of their best young players home in Queensland as the visitors put in a brave performance, but were overrun by the more polished and more experienced home team.
The Lions began brightly with several forward-half intercepts and pushes into the attacking arc.
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.
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.