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Lions Roar Into Top Four

Lachie Neale (file photo/AFANA)

The Brisbane Lions roared back into the top four with a win over a revived West Coast Eagles outfit. In a weekend of upsets, the Lions with six consecutive wins stamp themselves as the current "in form" team of the competition. The importance of Brisbane's win cannot be overstated. A loss would have sent them into ninth on the ladder, fighting with a plethora of other teams for September relevance. Forty-one thousand Eagles' supporters attended the game which was billed as a farewell to recently sacked coach Adam Simpson. The local players responded with a committed effort throughout the game, pressuring the Lions until the final siren. Perhaps the irony was missed by many, but if the former coach's team had played with that intensity over the past month, Simpson would still have his job.

The Eagles caught the Lions sleeping with their early attack on the ball and their willingness to take the game on. Under their interim coach, Jarrod Schofield, there was no switching play across the field and maintaining possession as they looked for a forward opening. They instead played a "straight down the line" game plan. Get the ball and get it forward to gain territory and let your teammates further afield do their job. It was a style of play that also suited the wet and at times slippery conditions.

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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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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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Dockers Demolish Insipid Eagles

Schultz wins medal (file picture)

The Fremantle Dockers dominated the West Coast Eagles to give the Eagles their worst thrashing in a Western Derby. In a year where the Eagles have already run up a number of "worsts", they suffered their fifth defeat by more than 100 points. The Dockers, on on the other hand, continued with their strong end-of-year form, in a season which would be rated as a disappointment for the young team. Despite having a couple of late withdrawals due to illness the Eagles started strongly and had made eleven forward entries to their oppositions two by the nineteen-minute mark of the first quarter. After five minutes of early play where defenses held sway, Josh Rotham kicked long to Oscar Allen who took a well-judged mark (catch) against Alex Pearce in the goal square. Allen's goal inspired West Coast and three minutes later Tim Kelly received a handpass to kick on the run from forty-six metres to have the Eagles thirteen points up. The Eagles continued to win clearances and dominate the first quarter, but didn't get value for the forward entries.

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Untidy Tigers Defeat Eagles

Rioli brilliance (file photo)

The Richmond Tigers defeated the West Coast Eagles to move to within two points of the top eight. The Tigers had moments of individual brilliance, punctuated by long spells of indifferent form as they ground out a victory against the spirited West Coast. The Eagles have been enlivened by the return of some of their best players but ultimately fell short of what was required to overcome the more talented Tigers. The struggling Eagles have now won just three of the past forty-four matches and this year sit at the bottom of the ladder, with just one win, way back in the second round against the GWS Giants. The Tigers have won three of their past four games and are within striking distance of the top eight, but would need to show much more than they did against the Eagles to get ahead of the log jam in front of them.

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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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Carlton and Curnow Crush Eagles

Charlie Curnow (file picture)

The Carlton Blues bounced back from two consecutive losses to record a thumping victory against the West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium. The match was never in doubt after half time, as Carlton held ascendancy across the field and dominated on the ball. Charlie Curnow had a day out for Carlton booting nine goals and setting up several others. Patrick Cripps was powerful in the middle for Carlton, gaining 33 possessions (22 of which were contested possessions) and laying eight tackles. The Eagles tried hard in the opening quarter and pushed Carlton in the second quarter. However the home team became spectators for the rest of the match as the relentless Carlton powered to a percentage-boosting victory (Ed: percentage in this case is calculated as the ratio of total points scored divided by points against for the season; it is the tie breaker if teams have identical won-loss records).

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Demons Burn Wounded Eagles

Petracca Handballs (D Woodley / AFANA)

The Melbourne Demons hit the West Coast Eagles with a scorching third quarter, using their big-bodied midfielders to tackle and pressure the younger Eagles out of the game. The Eagles were forced to make seven team changes due the injury carnage sustained against Fremantle the week before; and their inexperienced replacements gave it everything they could - and more - until half time. Harassment from the willing Eagles at the fall of the ball worried the Demons out of their usual game style early in the match.

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Dockers Destroy Brave Eagles

Walters Runs (D Woodley AFANA)

The Fremantle Dockers beat the brave West Coast Eagles, in a game that could prove pivotal for both teams. West Coast had a good outing against the GWS Giants the week before, but their ageing and wounded list was no match for the Dockers who finished full of run. Although the Eagles were expected to lose, the Dockers had been out-of-sorts in their first two outings and had lost to two teams they were expected to beat. The Eagles started brightly with Tim Kelly, Andrew Gaff and Reuben Ginbey matching Andrew Brayshaw, Jaeger O'Meara and Sam Switkowski in clearances. This was despite Sean Darcy and Luke Jackson, dominating Bailey J Williams in the ruck. Darcy finished with an astonishing 52 hit-outs, Jackson had 17 and Williams only had fourteen.

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Running Dogs Attack Eagles

Bulldogs cheer squad (file photo)

The Western Bulldogs produced an irresistible second half of football to record their highest score and biggest winning margin against the West Coast Eagles. The win allowed the Dogs to sneak back into the top eight after a slow start to the season. Their 6 wins and 5 losses put them within striking distance of the teams above them and sets them up for the second half of the season. West Coast have one win from eleven games, which equals their worst start to a season. The loss to the Bulldogs was also their seventh consecutive loss, all of which had a deficit of 50 points or more. The Bulldogs ruckman Tim English played a magnificent game, dominating the ruck and picking up 25 possessions in general play. It is rumored he will decline offers to return to Western Australia, and in the near future, will sign a new contract to stay with the Dogs.

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