West Coast’s 2017 season may have only one week left in it after they fell to the Giants by 21 points at the Sydney Showgrounds.
The Eagles showed plenty of effort and resistance for much of the day, but ultimately fell short in talent and contributors, outscored again in the final term.
Only one point separated the two sides at three quarter time, but the Giants controlled much of the final term, booting four goals to one to once again drop West Coast outside the top eight. The Eagles have gone win-loss in their past 11 games and as a result have yo-yoed between in out of the finals rungs throughout that time.
With the final two games against the top two sides in the competition, the Eagles were going to need a rapid form improvement and luck from other results to make the finals for a third consecutive season. Following the gallant loss, it was a mixed bag in terms of the results they needed.
The Bulldogs lost to Port Adelaide to keep them behind the Eagles on percentage, while the Hawks suffered a surprise loss to Carlton, officially ruling them out of a late miraculous finals charge. The Saints won comfortably against North Melbourne, but with their loss to the Demons last week, they too remain behind
West Coast on percentage, with a game to come against a Richmond who are full of momentum and confidence following a 104 point win.
However, Essendon and Melbourne both got the job done to make things tricky for West Coast. The Bombers replaced West Coast in the eight and with a home game to come against Fremantle – who have been diabolical in the past fortnight – look set to hold onto their spot for the finals, a year after collecting the wooden spoon.
Melbourne sit a game and percentage in front of West Coast in seventh and seem to be the team that West Coast can likely catch if they can knock off the Crows in their final ever game at Subiaco Oval.
The Demons would have to lose to Collingwood along with the Eagles winning, and for the cumulative margins in the two games to be around the 40 point mark to reverse the 2.07% percentage gap between the two sides. The Eagles could be riding the emotion of playing their final game at their Subiaco home after 31 seasons and will go into the game knowing whether they have their finals hopes in their hands, given the Melbourne-Collingwood clash would have ended 24 hours earlier.
The Crows can’t be knocked out of the top two, although their loss to Sydney means they can still be caught at the top of the table by the 2nd placed Giants and 3rd placed Cats who square off against each other.
Against arguably the Giants best line up for the season, the Eagles showed patches of their best form.
Matthew Priddis wound back the clock to be the Eagles best, collecting 31 disposals which included 10 clearances, four inside-50s and seven tackles, while also booting two goals. It is the first time Priddis has booted multiple goals since the corresponding game against the Giants last year and are the only occasions of the past three seasons.
Sam Mitchell made it a one-two with Priddis to have eight clearances in his 23 disposals, while Jack Redden continued his late season form with 27 possessions, 13 of which were contested. Tom Barrass and Eric Mackenzie were solid down back to hold Jon Patton and Jeremy Cameron to one goal between them.
Elliot Yeo rediscovered his best early season form to gather 30 across half back, although he had a moment to forget in the final term when he slipped over on the last line to allow Toby Greene to kick an easy goal, after Josh Kennedy had brought the Eagles back within a point just short of time on. Kennedy booted another four goals to take a commanding lead in the Coleman with just one round remaining.
Kennedy though was the Eagles only productive forward with Jack Darling and Josh Hill both ineffective. Hill could be staring at the end of his time with West Coast, having been on the outer since the midway point of the season.
After Greene booted his third goal to make it a seven point advantage, Mumford and Kelly put the icing on the cake to make it a 21 point win, just reward for their dominance in the final term. The Giants had had 19 to 9 inside-50’s and always looked the more likely the longer the game went on. Earlier it appeared as though they would skip away when they opened up a 20 point advantage during the second quarter, but the Eagles fought their way back into the contest to kick five of the next six goals to take the lead during the third term, mainly on the back of Priddis’ work.
However, for all of the grunt of Priddis, Redden and Mitchell, it was the class of Josh Kelly which stood out. The running midfielder had 43 disposals to carve the Eagles up with Adam Simpson later admitting that
West Coast made the decision between working him over or Dylan Shiel. The match-up with Shiel worked but there were still plenty of Giants that chipped in.
Callan Ward was the grunt to match West Coast, with Lachie Whitfield also providing plenty of run to pikc up 31 touches. Stephen Coniglio once again proved that he had been a missing link in the Giants midfield to gather 28, while Heath Shaw and Nathan Wilson provided plenty of dash out of defence.
The Eagles had the better of the opening quarter and dominated through a large period of the game through the middle, but lapses in the second term and another fade out in the last was indicative of the Eagles 2017 season.
Prior to the Giants loss, the Eagles had led or been level in the final term in their proceeding six losses, and were within a behind against GWS. However, too often the Eagles haven’t stepped up with the game on the line, and they look set to be watching in September.
Match Details Saturday 19 August 2017
GWS Giants 2.1 7.4 8.6 12.9 (81)
West Coast 3.1 6.3 8.5 9.6 (60)
Sydney Showgrounds Attendance: 15,751
Goals: GWS Greene 3, Deledio 2, Patton, Kelly, Mumford, Scully, Shiel, Whitfield, Wilson.
WCE Kennedy 4, Priddis 2, Cripps, Partington, Petrie.
EAGLE EYE VOTES
Round 22 Season Total
5 Matthew Priddis 34 Luke Shuey
4 Elliot Yeo 32 Elliot Yeo
3 Josh Kennedy 32 Josh Kennedy
2 Sam Mitchell 28 Jeremy McGovern
1 Jack Redden 24 Andrew Gaff
ROUND 23 FORECAST
The Eagles will enter their final game of the regular season knowing whether their finals hopes are still alive, with Essendon playing earlier in the day and Melbourne the day before.
Mark LeCras could come back into calculations following a fortnight sidelined with a hamstring, in place of Josh Hill. Like Wellingham the week before, Hill had a chance to make a statement about his future with West Coast but managed just six disposals and was scoreless.
Lewis Jetta was another that had no influence in his return from a calf problem, while Josh Kennedy was left to carry the forward line with Jack Darling and Drew Petrie booting just one goal between them.
Despite having 14 Eagle-listed players in their side, East Perth suffered a shock five point loss to bottom-placed Perth. The Demons kicked the final three goals of the game in time on to snatch victory and put a dent in the Royals’ finals hopes. The Royals sit in fifth spot, percentage ahead of arch rivals West Perth and with a tough game to finish against the benchmark side in the WAFL in Subiaco. West Perth play lowly Claremont and if the result mirror the favouritism, then East Perth’s season could end a day before their parent clubs.
Sharrod Wellingham responded to being dropped back to the Royals to be one of their best players with 33 disposals. Youngster Jordan Snadden also had one of his best games at East Perth seniors, collecting 27 disposals and booting a goal, while Willie Rioli continued to build with 20 disposals, three tackles and nine inside-50’s. Fraser McInnes had 21 possessions and 18 hit-outs and continues to push his case forward for the second ruck/forward position. Nathan Vardy and Drew Petrie could both feel a little nervous with the two ruckman having just 15 possessions between them.
Father-son recruit Jake Waterman made it seven goals in three league appearances for East Perth when he booted a further three from 14 disposals and six marks. With LeCras towards the end of his career and Josh Hill at the crossroads, Waterman could be the answer as a high half forward, capable of taking a mark but also being handy on the ground. Considering the opportunity granted to Wellingham and Hill in recent weeks, the Eagles could do worse than to throw a game into another youngster as they look to change the team dynamic in 2018.
At the other end, Chris Masten had only 19 disposals through the midfield, while Jackson Nelson had a day to forget with young Perth forward kicking seven goals in a match-winning performance.