West Coast finally paid the price for a string of inconsistent performances, falling to Collingwood by 19 points at the MCG.
The loss has put a huge dent into the Eagles’ hopes of a top four finish with a tough run home in comparison to the sides now sitting a game clear above them. A win would have kept the Eagles percentage off second spot, but instead they sit equal with the eighth placed Kangaroos.
In a disturbing trend for coach Adam Simpson, many of the areas that West Coast were beaten in by the Demons the week before, were of concern once again. West Coast were smashed through the middle, with Brodie Grundy dominant.
Grundy had 45 hit-outs, as Collingwood won the clearances 47-28, the contested possession 150-116, and although the inside-50 count finished even, the Magpies managed 9 more scoring shots. The key stat of the afternoon was that Collingwood laid a club record 118 tackles and their intensity around the ball showed up a lacklustre Eagles outfit who have failed to show the same desire that drove them to last year’s Grand Final.
The Eagles led by 9 points at the first break, but with Collingwood controlling all aspects of the contest, it wasn’t long before they broke away. Darcy Moore had three goals from 8 kicks and 6 marks (including 5 contested) and looked unstoppable until injury forced him out of the game midway through the second quarter.
James Aish kicked the last goal of the half to give the Magpies a 17 point lead, but the Eagles showed what they could be capable of storming back into the contest in the third quarter. West Coast booted four goals to one, despite Collingwood still having more of the ball, and then hit the front early in the last quarter when Jamie Cripps kicked truly from the boundary line.
But as starkly as the Eagles forced their way into the contest, they fell away again, with Collingwood booting five of the last six goals in the game to record a deserved victory.
Gaff was prolific through the afternoon, finishing as the Eagles highest possession-winner with 35. Gaff also had five clearances and five inside-50’s as he customarily roamed around the ground.
Priddis battled hard as the likes of Adams, Treloar, Pendlebury and Crisp were given silver service at the stoppages. Priddis had 7 of the Eagles 28 clearances in the game and six tackles to accompany his 31 disposals.
Shuey continued his fine season, with 28 possessions and six tackles to provide support to Gaff and Priddis. Shuey continues to provide the line-breaking through the middle and four inside-50’s. Only Mark Hutchings had more than 20 disposals along with Gaff, Priddis and Shuey, with the star trio once again being left to carry the load, as they have done throughout the year.
Edge of the Nest?
Adam Simpson continues to search for the best combination and a few players could be in the gun after a poor performance. Chris Masten has struggled to have the impact in games compared to 2015 and managed just 15 disposals in the weekend’s loss to Collingwood, as well as just two tackles and zero inside-50’s. This follows a 12-touch performance against the Demons and 18 against Carlton the week before.
Mark Le Cras is another who may feel Simpson’s wrath, after two goalless weeks. Le Cras had just 9 possessions against Collingwood, and also failed to have an inside-50. Simon Tunbridge and Malcolm Karpany both came into the side, and although neither hit the scoreboard, they may get another chance to show the match committee what they are capable of. Liam Duggan and Dom Sheed were both referenced in Simpson’s post match conference as not providing as much as was expected, while Eric Mackenzie may make way again for Tom Barrass, with a less-than-convincing performance in the backline.
East Perth had the bye in the WAFL, meaning a number of players couldn’t get a chance to push for senior selection, but McGinnity and Lamb could be two players that come into consideration.
The Question Mark?
Did West Coast lose this game at the selection table?
While the Eagles were certainly out-played, a few players brought into the side failed to have an impact on the contest. West Coast opted to go with just the one recognised ruckman against Brodie Grundy, who has arguably been one of the best ruckmen in the competition through the second half of the season.
Jon Giles struggled in the win over Melbourne but the decision to omit him and play Jeremy McGovern as a second ruck failed, with the Eagles were smashed in contested possessions and clearances by a side that ranked 8th and 17th coming into this game. McGovern had just three hit-outs when he relieved Lycett, and after declaring his desire to spend more time in the ruck at the start of the year, it appears his future is destined for the backline.
With McGovern spending time in the middle and Tom Barrass rested, the Eagles seemed to lack options down back, particularly when Darcy Moore got on top through the first half. Simon Tunbridge was brought in for his first game following solid efforts at East Perth, without being outstanding. The Eagles picked Tunbridge to provide more defensive pressure in the forward half and while he laid five tackles, Tunbridge had just eight possessions and failed to hit the scoreboard.
Dom Sheed also struggled in his first outing for the season, and with Elliott Yeo and Jack Redden both unavailable, Jackson Nelson or even Brant Colledge may have been an option to provide a harder edge around the contest.
West Coast return home to take on Fremantle in the 44th Western Derby. The Dockers will be keen to put in a better performance after copping a 90 point thrashing, but the Eagles will also have plenty to prove, with their flag credentials in serious question. West Coast will essentially have a mini-finals series over the next month, in an attempt to push their way into the top four.
Match Details Saturday 30 July 2016
Collingwood 2.5 7.7 8.11 13.13 (91)
West Coast 4.2 5.2 9.3 11.6 (72)
Best: COLL Adams, Pendlebury, Grundy, Sidebottom, Treloar, Aish, Smith, Moore
WC Gaff, Priddis, Shuey, Cripps, Darling
Goals: COLL Moore 3, Aish, Sidebottom 2, Cloke, Greenwood, White, Crisp, Maynard, Treloar.
WC Darling 4, Hill, Kennedy, Cripps 2, Masten.