The West Coast Eagles unfurled their Premiership Flag at their first home game of the year and then completed the evening’s celebrations by punishing the Giants, with a clinical exhibition of effective forward play. It was a pleasing return to form for the home team after going down to Brisbane in the first game of the season and starting slowly in this contest.
This will be the first time Collingwood and West Coast will meet in a Grand Final. However, both do have recent Grand Final histories, albeit losses the last time either side played in a Grand Final. The Eagles lost to Hawthorn in 2015 and the Magpies lost to Geelong in 2011 after winning the replay the year before. Speaking of drawn matches, Collingwood and West Coast played against each other in a drawn Qualifying Final in 1990 with Collingwood victorious in the replay.
In front of the largest crowd for a sporting event in Western Australia history (59,608), the West Coast Eagles demolished the Melbourne Demons in a one sided contest that crushed the Demon faithful. It took Melbourne a full half of football before they scored their first goal of the match and left their supporters bereft at what might have been in 2018.
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.
West Coast Eagles vs Collingwood Magpies (Optus Stadium)
STATE OF PLAY:
The Saturday clash between West Coast and Collingwood is a top four battle of two teams that have been hit hard by injury during the season but have come through in pretty good shape nonetheless.
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.
With the byes behind us, the first full slate of AFL games in a month gave us an absolutely sensational round of football with upsets, tight finishes and a brand new AFANA Power Poll leader!
Round fifteen highlights included a win for the Tigers over the second placed Swans, upset wins by Saint Kilda, the Western Bulldogs, Essendon and Brisbane and a big win by the Giants over the Hawks that has really opened up the competition for the final eight as we head into the last two months of the minor round.
Round fourteen saw the last of four “bye” weeks played out, with top teams Sydney and Richmond having the week off along with Geelong, Adelaide, Fremantle, Adelaide and Saint Kilda. The big winner of round fourteen was Port Adelaide, who beat fellow top four aspirants Melbourne in a tough game of tightly contested football at the Adelaide Oval. The biggest loser of the round
Boris Kilpatrick, special to AFANA from Australia
In a quirky scheduling twist this week, round eleven – celebrating Australia’s Indigenous heritage - saw the top eight teams pitted against the bottom eight, giving the top teams the chance to stretch their advantage while those struggling had the opportunity to make up some ground. Fast forward to Monday, and with all of the games in the books, the top six teams on the AFANA Power Poll all had wins, keeping them at the top of the tree.