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Hawks Hammer Indifferent Eagles

Hawks cheersquad (file photo/AFANA)

The Hawthorn Hawks won a rare interstate victory against the West Coast Eagles to elevate themselves to a group of five teams who sit half a game out of the top eight. In a remarkable transformation, the Hawks are the only team along with Carlton to have won their last five games. Today's victory was also significant as the Hawks have not won on the road since early last year. Their victory was based on winning clearances, moving the ball out of packs, maintaining forward pressure, and controlling the tempo of the game. West Coast entered the match with one their strongest lists for some time but were outplayed in most areas of the game and appeared to lack desperation and a willingness to run and compete. The loss will raise more questions on whether coach Adam Simpson is the best man to rebuild the team.

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Kangaroos Survive Late Eagle Attack

Roos Celebrate (file photo/AFANA)

The North Melbourne Kangaroos withstood a late West Coast Eagles revival to win their first game of the season. The Kangaroos were hungrier than the Eagles and fought harder for the ball for most of the day, winning contested possessions (152 to 137) and laying more tackles (84-62) to create an upset win over the home team. Although the combination of the Eagles' two ruckmen, Matt Flynn and Bailey J Williams, had the edge over North Melbourne's ruckman Tristan Xerri, the Kangaroos were good at stoppages winning forty-eight clearances, which was eighteen more than West Coast. Despite having the edge in the midfield for most of the match, the Kangaroos fell down in attack by initially bombing the ball high to their forwards which suited the intercept skills of the Eagle defenders Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barrass who shut down many early attacks with their spoiling skills.

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Eagles Ambush Demons

Williams marks (Dave Woodley/AFANA)

The West Coast Eagles launched a surprise attack on the Melbourne Demons to win convincingly by thirty-five points. The Demons were overwhelmed by the Eagles' attack on the ball and the pressure applied in the midfield. The Demons' defense has been the best in the league, but with linchpin defender Jake Lever injured early in the first quarter, the visitors were unable to withstand the repeated entries of the Eagles.

Teams that have defeated Melbourne recently have concentrated on nullifying the influence of Lever, Max Gawn, and Christian Petracca. With Lever out of the equation the Eagles physically targeted Gawn but he was equal to the challenge. He dominated the hitouts and won six clearances, but the physical buffeting he received in packs reduced his marks (catches) tally to just three. When the ball hit the ground the Eagles' Tim Kelly, Harley Reid, Liam Duggan and Reuben Ginbey swooped to initiate Eagle attacks. Clayton Oliver (nine clearances) and Christian Salem were good for the Demons but were outpointed by the combined Eagles midfield who won more contested possessions, particularly in the first half. Jake Waterman and Jack Darling were the Eagles' main targets up forward with Waterman taking thirteen marks and booting five goals. Darling only took four marks but with thirteen tackles, he kept the Melbourne defenders under constant pressure.

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Bombers Survive Late Eagle Challenge

Kyle Langford (file photo/AFANA)

The Essendon Bombers survived a late challenge by a determined West Coast Eagles to win by one goal in a thriller at Optus Stadium. The Bombers had more of the play for three quarters but couldn't finish scoring opportunities off the strong work of their midfield. Whereas the Eagles launched less attacks but were more efficient in attack. The Bombers used handball to break out of packs but the Eagles' players were more inclined to "roll the dice" and take on the tackler to get out of tight situations. Veteran ruckman Todd Goldstein, was dominant in for Essendon and for three quarters the Bombers won more clearances through his combination with Darcy Parish and Zach Merrett at ground level. Goldstein tired in the last stanza and an improved second half by Tim Kelly of the Eagles in the packs brought the hosts back into the game.

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Eagles Shock Dockers

Elliot Yeo (file photo/AFANA)

The West Coast Eagles shocked an out-of-sorts Fremantle Dockers. They defeated the match favorites by applying pressure at the ball and using direct attacks into a well-organized forward line. The Dockers appeared jaded after two games on the road where they lost narrowly to Carlton and Port Adelaide. The Eagles built on last week's comprehensive victory over the wounded Richmond Tigers to record consecutive victories for the first time since 2021. The addition of number 1 draft pick Harley Reid, combined with an injury-free and resurgent Elliot Yeo, has provided the Eagles with the midfield strength they have lacked for three years. Their clean delivery into the forward line enabled Jack Darling to feature more prominently; however, it is the re-emergence of full-forward Jake Waterman that is the big story of their forward line. The Dockers were due to have a poor game after playing intense pressure football for the first five weeks of the season. However, nobody expected such a sudden drop in form.

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