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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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Saints Escape from Eagles

Jack Steele (Dave Woodley/AFANA)

The St Kilda Saints Played a strong last quarter to outlast the West Coast Eagles in a hard-fought game where the lead changed eight times. After three straight losses, it was the Saints fourth win for the season and they stay in fifteenth place on the ladder; but are now a game clear of West Coast who are sixteenth. Remarkably they are just two games out of the top eight, but would need a drastic turn-around in form to trouble the top sides. Things didn't start well before the game for the Eagles. Their mascot, a majestic wedged-tailed eagle (with a wingspan of nearly three yards) refused to follow the script of flying around the arena and landing in the center of the oval. Instead it reached the center, relaunched to check out various views from the bleachers and finally perched himself near the coaches box, keeping a close eye on coach Adam Simpson. The game started once his handler had him (Ozzie the Eagle) under control. For Simpson's sake, it is hoped Ozzie was not sending a message to the club board by impersonating a vulture.

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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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Giants Step Over Eagles

Whitfield kicks (file photo/AFANA)

It wasn't a giant leap for the Greater Western Sydney Giants, but it was a small step towards their first Premiership flag. For the first time in their history, the Giants have started a season with three wins. Their opponents, the Eagles, have landed with a thud. After a boost in optimism, having drafted the number one draft pick, Harley Reid, the Eagles have been brought back to Earth. The Giants were expected to win this game, they did what they had to, without really breaking stride. For a large part of the match the Eagles impersonated traffic cones as the Giants weaved towards repeated goals. Both teams were evenly matched in terms of games played and player age, but that is where the comparisons end. The Giants are loaded with talent and the Eagles have a few good men who try hard but can't carry a playing list that had been neglected while the club relied on its aging stars.

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Crows Quell Eagle Celebrations

Tex Walker (file photo)

A quirk of the English language is that the collective noun for crows is "a murder". The Adelaide Crows didn't murder the West Coast Eagles, but they did their best to put a damper on the Eagles' farewell celebrations for retiring former captain Shannon Hurn and current captain Luke Shuey, as well as injured star ruckman Nic Naitanui. A quirk in the AFL regulations cost the Crows a position in this year's final series, when a video review of a goal umpire error at the end of last week's one point loss against Sydney, was not applied. (The umpire incorrectly judged a Crow's shot on goal as a behind [worth one point], instead of a goal [worth six points]). The Crows could be excused for feeling deflated and disinterested in the game against the Eagles. They had nothing to gain, apart from perhaps proving a point that they deserved to be finalists.  Alternatively, the Eagles had every reason to farewell their three retiring stalwarts with a win. A win for the Eagles was not an impossible dream. The previous week they had defeated the Western Bulldogs, in Melbourne, which ultimately led to the Bulldogs missing the finals. The stage was set for an intriguing contest.

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Bombers Cruise Through Eagles' Nest

Weideman flies (Woodley/AFANA)

The Essendon Bombers accounted for the West Coast Eagles in a match in which the Eagles recorded their ninth consecutive loss. The Eagles were more competitive than last week, but lacked the class of Essendon's forward entries. The Eagles made two more attacking forays than the Bombers but their delivery and goal kicking was poor. At the other end, Essendon were more efficient in attack and were far more accurate with their set shots at goal.

The Eagles began by applying good pressure in the midfield, but Zach Merrett and Mason Redman gained plenty of possessions for the Bombers and the run of Nic Martin gave the Bombers more opportunities. Within the first thirty seconds Jake Stringer had kicked to Kyle Langford who marked and goaled. The Don's next two goals came from snaps from Redmond and Archie Perkins. The Eagles didn't panic and kept to their game plan of using the ball across the field to spread play. At the fifteen-minute mark they moved the ball across the 50 meter arc to Oscar Allen who marked (caught the ball) and kicked truly from long range. Two minutes later a chain of passes out of defense ended with Allen booting his second. The quarter was then evenly balanced until Essendon scored the last goal, after Sam Draper laid a good tackle on Bailey Williams to win a free kick.

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Suns Eclipse Eagles

Roses against Rotham (Woodley/AFANA)

The Gold Coast Suns easily accounted for the West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium, with a dominant second term and a powerful final term. The Suns won in most areas of play, winning contested possessions 150 to 116 and almost doubling the number of forward entries made by the hapless hosts. The Suns were led by Jarrod Witts who dominated in the ruck and Matt Rowell who collected twenty-nine possessions (13 contested) and laid a season high seventeen tackles. Tim Kelly was strong in the midfield for the Eagles picking up 26 possessions (17 contested) and laying six tackles. First-year player Reuben Ginbey gave him good support in the packs, laying sixteen tackles and picking up twelve possessions (9 contested), but the combination of Rowell, Noah Anderson, David Swallow, Will Powell, and first-year player Bailey Humphrey overwhelmed the undermanned Eagles' midfield.

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