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.
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.
Twenty one rounds into the AFL season and incredibly the finals and top four races remain wide open and just two weeks to go. A big win to Richmond over the Suns has locked up a top two spot for the reigning premiers while an amazing last gasp win to the Eagles – in almost identical fashion to their final in 2017, and once again over a distraught Port Adelaide – leaves them in great shape to finish in the top two and secure a home final.
A gutsy win to Hawthorn over Geelong has catapulted the Hawks into fourth position on the AFL ladder, in turn sending the Cats crashing out of the eight, while the Giants 14 point win over Adelaide kept them in great shape for a finals double chance while ending the Crows chances of any finals participation in the process.
The West Coast Eagles have confirmed that Nic Naitanui has a torn the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on his right knee. His left knee was reconstructed in late 2016 and kept Naitanui out of the competition for all of 2017. American specialist Bill Knowles, who assisted Naitanui with his recovery in Philadelphia last July, has suggested that this second reconstruction could require a longer recovery period. It is expected that Naitanui will undergo reconstruction surgery as soon as the initial swelling subsides. He will miss the rest of this year and most of the 2019 season. The twenty-eight year old has played 160 games for West Coast; he will be nearly 30 when he returns to the game.
Round seventeen was full of upsets, great finishes and some very big injuries. The Giants resurrected their season with a win over the Tigers, the Eagles rode their big forwards to a classy win over Collingwood, and the Crows celebrated the re-signing of favorite son Rory Sloane by banking a win against the highly fancied Cats.
Biggest loser of the weekend has to go to Port Adelaide, who not only forfeited a chance at second place on the ladder by losing to an undermanned Fremantle,
Chris Kowald reporting for AFANA from Optus Stadium, Perth
The West Coast Eagles recorded their eighth consecutive victory and rose to the top of the Premiership table by defeating the Richmond Tigers on a perfect day for football in Perth. The Eagles used their ruck dominance and forward marking power to outscore the Tigers, who made uncharacteristic skill errors and were found wanting in the midfield.
The mercury hit 77 degrees Fahrenheit and was hot by Melbourne standards.
Boris Kilpatrick, special to AFANA from Australia
Round eight gave the football public some classic matches, making a mockery of those in the media who have been complaining that the overall standard of the AFL is trending downward. It started with a brilliant contest between Hawthorn and Sydney at the MCG on Friday night with the Swans storming home to take the win after it looked like the Hawks had the game won.
The West Coast Eagles overcame indifferent form to make use of the wind and fly past the Carlton Blues in the last quarter. In doing so, the Eagles kept their finals hopes alive for one more week. The Blues were brave and dashing in their play. Their players matched the Eagles as the home team pressed players towards the contest; and when the ball came loose, Carlton used pace to expose the Eagles with leg speed. If not for the heroics of Eagles forward Josh Kennedy, who kicked six goals, the Eagles’ season would have ended at the hands of a team some considered a candidate for the wooden spoon.
Even if you remember these events from 2003 - the space shuttle Columbia disintegrating on its return to Earth, Andre Agassi winning the Australian Open in tennis and Netscape being taken down for Mozilla - you will be forgiven if you don’t remember that 2003 was the last time that the West Coast Eagles defeated the Collingwood Magpies in Melbourne.