West Coast’s shot at a top four placing took another hit, when they fell to a depleted Giants lineup by 8 points.
The Eagles and Giants went goal for goal in the final term, before Toby Greene kicked a crucial brace that delivered the Giants victory.
In a further blow to the Eagles’ finals hopes, spearhead Josh Kennedy limped off during the final quarter, with what was later diagnosed as a calf injury ruling him out until after the clubs mid-season bye.
The Eagles showed greater intent than the previous week’s effort against Essendon, narrowly edging the Giants in contested possession and tackles, but were again smashed in the clearances.
Shane Mumford feasted on the shorter Nathan Vardy and Drew Petrie to record 50 hit-outs as the Giants won the centre clearances 20-9 and the overall clearance count 54-31.
With Luke Shuey joining Mark LeCras as a late withdrawal, the Eagles were unable to control the first ball with Callan Ward, Dylan Shiel and Josh Kelly picking up 29 clearances between them – two shy of the entire Eagles side. The lopsided clearance count led to the Giants holding an advantage in inside-50’s but early in the game, they were made to pay by an efficient West Coast.
The Giants had 15 inside-50’s in the opening quarter to the Eagles 10, but the efficiency of the home side proved telling. The Eagles booted 5.0 from their entries, which were often on the counter attack as the Giants’ forward pressure camped the ball in their half.
Drew Petrie, Lewis Jetta and Jamie Cripps all goaled from the goal square, as West Coast resisted the Giant attacks to find space behind the GWS defence. Conversely, the Giants could manage only 2.5 for the term giving the Eagles a 13 point lead at the first change.
The second term became a much more dire affair as both sides struggled to crack the opposition backlines. Mark Hutchings kicked the only Eagles goal for the term collecting the ball from a perfectly timed crumb, but the Giants managed two as they reduced the margin to seven at the main break.
Dylan Shiel was the most influential player on the ground in the opening half, kicking two of the Giants four goals, to go with 18 disposals. West Coast though had the three leading ball winners on the ground at half-time, with Andrew Gaff and Sam Mitchell both with 20, and Dom Sheed 19. Mitchell had started the game with 13 disposals in the opening quarter, marshalling the side in his customary quarterback role.
The game featured the two joint leaders of the Coleman Medal in Josh Kennedy and Jeremy Cameron who had both kicked 31 goals in the opening nine rounds. Neither player had had much of an impact to this point, but both sprung to life in the third term.
Cameron took a one-hander to open the scoring and shortly after GWS had the lead for the first time since the opening minutes of the game, courtesy of a couple of behinds. Josh Kennedy responded with the next two, the first a roving goal from a marking contest and the second a holding free kick directly in front. Moments later, Nathan Vardy ran into an open goal and the Eagles had the biggest lead in the game of 15 points.
Adam Simpson had recognised the first half threat of Shiel and Hutchings was given the task of minding him. With Shiel’s output diminished and the Eagles threatening to take the game away from the visitors, Josh Kelly and Callan Ward stepped up. Kelly had 13 possessions for the term, and Ward 10, as the Giants weight of possession in their forward half finally started to reap benefits.
Cameron booted his second and then Himmelberg and Kelly goaled to have the Giants back in front at the final change. The Giants had managed nine more scoring shots by three quarter time, but a host of missed chances meant their lead was a slender three points.
With both sides eyeing a chance to consolidate a top four spot, the game opened as the two teams traded the opening eight goals of the game. The lead changed an incredible eight times before Toby Greene followed Daniel Lloyd to claim the decisive break in time-on. Jack Darling had a chance to reduce the margin back to under a goal, but missed and Toby Greene made it consecutive goals to finish the contest.
While Adam Simpson was disappointed with the loss, there were positive signs – no more than the performance of Lewis Jetta who played clearly his finest game in Eagle colours. After a slow start, Jetta had 28 disposals and booted two goals, but importantly had 800 metres gained with his run and carry an eye-catching aspect of his game.
“It’s really good to see him contribute like he did. That’s one game. We need to see him back it up.”
Andrew Gaff finished with 35 disposals in his standard accumulative manner, Mitchell had 31 and as a result overtook Robert Harvey for most 30+ disposal games, while Dom Sheed and Elliot Yeo also gathered 31 disposals. Jeremy McGovern was the rock in defence with 22 touches and nine marks and was a huge factor in the Eagles staying in the contest against a wave of GWS attacks.
Match Details Sunday 28 May 2017
GWS Giants 2.4 4.7 8.12 14.14 (98)
West Coast 5.0 6.2 9.3 14.6 (90)
Docklands Attendance: 37,051
Goals: GWS Greene, Patton, Cameron, Shiel 2, Himmelberg, Kelly, Williams, Lloyd, Taranto, Whitfield.
WCE Kennedy 3, Darling, Jetta 2, Vardy 2, Cripps, Karpany, Hutchings, Mitchell, Petrie.
EAGLE EYE VOTES
Round 10 Season Total
5 Jeremy McGovern 24 Luke Shuey
4 Sam Mitchell 21 Elliot Yeo
3 Lewis Jetta 16 Andrew Gaff
2 Brad Sheppard 15 Sam Mitchell
1 Dom Sheed 12 Jeremy McGovern
ROUND 11 FORECAST
The Eagles make the longest trip in football, heading up to the Gold Coast before their mid-season break. West Coast will be keen to halt their two game losing streak and the Suns present a real opportunity to return to the winners list.
There was no game for East Perth as the WAFL and VFL played a state match, with the West Australian side ending a century long hoodoo to defeat the Victorians by 63 points. As a result, none of the fringe Eagles were able to press their case for senior selection, although there is one guaranteed change to the team that lost to GWS.
Josh Kennedy will miss the clash against the Gold Coast due to a calf injury, with Eagles fans and officials breathing a little easier that it wasn’t anything more serious after first reports suggested it was an achilles problem. Mark Le Cras and Luke Shuey were both late withdrawals and would be at the front of the queue to come back into the side.
Shuey strained a calf at training and with a bye after the Gold Coast, West Coast may take a cautious route and give him the extra fortnight to recover. Le Cras was kept out of the side due to hip soreness, and seems the logical choice to come in and replace the Eagles leading goal-kicker.
The full-forward position will be up for grabs, with a number of options at Adam Simpson’s disposal. Jeremy McGovern has been floated as a possible switch up forward, although the Eagles have looked best when McGovern has played in defence. Drew Petrie returned from injury against the Giants and could play as a permanent forward, while Tom Lamb and Fraser McInnes could also come into the side. Lamb hasn’t played since debuting in the opening round of 2015, but has had a number of influential games at East Perth this season.
Adam Simpson was generally pleased with the effort of his side, despite the loss, so it is unlikely there will be a repeat of the seven changes that took place following the defeat to Essendon. Malcolm Karpany could be one that faces the chop after coming in as the late inclusion for Shuey. Karpany started brightly, with an energetic start that reaped his first goal in Eagles colours, but struggled to have an influence after quarter time.
Liam Duggan didn’t have his best game with some costly turnovers, and Josh Hill was goalless for a second game in a row (either side of being left out of the Bombers clash), but both will probably hold their place for the Suns.