The Eagles recorded their first win of the season with an impressive 51 point victory over a struggling Bulldogs outfit. West Coast had an early disruption to proceedings with coach Adam Simpson returning to Perth ahead of the game following the hospitalisation of his daughter. That meant that Jaymie Graham took the reins on match day and after an even first quarter, Graham would have had a relaxing day in the office as West Coast took charge.
The Eagles booted six goals to nil in the second quarter to stretch out to a 39 point lead and when Mark LeCras and Daniel Venables kicked majors, West Coast had booted nine in a row and stormed to a 50 point advantage. The Eagles were capitalising on frequent turnovers by the Bulldogs out of their defensive half and were controlling the air at both ends of the ground.
The home side took momentum through the second half of the third quarter, beginning with Josh Dunkley ending a 59 minute goal drought. The Bulldogs had eight of the final ten scoring shots for the term, but could only manage an inaccurate 2.8 with Jackson Macrae goaling on the siren to keep West Coast’s lead to the half-time margin of 39. A six goal to four final term resulted in a 51 point win, the Eagles biggest win in Melbourne since Round 2, 2014.
For stand-in coach Jaymie Graham, the response from the players was impressive after the pre-game drama. “The most pleasing part about it was the fact that the players really stood up in Simmo’s absence and really it was our leaders. Simmo will be really proud of the way the boys led and then our young guys all had an impact and brought energy.”
WCE 3.5 9.9 12.10 18.13 (121)
WB 3.3 3.6 5.13 9.16 (70)
Docklands Crowd: 22,868
WCE Darling 4, Ryan, Venables 3, Lycett, LeCras, Waterman 2, Cripps, Gaff.
WB Macrae 3, Dunkley, Hunter 2, Gowers, Bontempelli.
Best of the West
After quiet performances against the Swans, the young Eagles brigade delivered plenty to get West Coast fans excited about the future. Liam Ryan was dynamic in the forward half, and if not for some inaccurate kicking on goal, he could have finished with a handful in just his second game. Ryan finished the game with 14 disposals, six marks and 3.3 and was involved in several other goals during the game. Daniel Venables also chimed in with three goals while Jake Waterman booted two from 13 disposals.
Down back, Shannon Hurn once again was the general, racking up 10 touches in the opening quarter to propel a number of Eagle attacks, eventually finishing with 29 for the game at 90% disposal efficiency and seven rebound 50’s. Jack Darling also relished being the main target up forward, booting four straight and gathering a number of possessions up the ground as well as bringing in several strong contested marks. Scott Lycett was also impressive in his second game from long-term injuries having a presence around the contests with five clearances, and providing a tall target up forward with two majors.
Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barrass were both road blocks for the Bulldogs down back, while Andrew Gaff was the leading midfielder for the Eagles with 27 touches. Elliot Yeo and Chris Masten both collected 20, with Yeo also laying 7 tackles.
Eagle Eye Votes
ROUND 2 SEASON LEADERBOARD
5 Shannon Hurn 9 Shannon Hurn
4 Liam Ryan 5 Mark LeCras
3 Jack Darling 4 Liam Ryan
2 Scott Lycett 3 Jeremy McGovern
1 Elliot Yeo 3 Jack Darling
Edge of the Nest
With a 51 point win, there weren’t too many passengers, but Jackson Nelson again had limited impact. Nelson seems a little lost in his role, whether it be a lockdown or as an attacking defender. Liam Duggan has also had an underwhelming start to the season after he finished last year so strongly. Duggan has had 17 and 10 disposals in the first two weeks and went at just 58% disposal efficiency against the Bulldogs. Duggan has also had limited time through the midfield, despite being expected to step into the role with Priddis and Mitchell no longer at the club.
Willie Rioli had a quiet debut game with just eight possessions and one shot on goal and seemed overawed by his first AFL outing. However he looks as though he will combine well with Liam Ryan in a new-look forward line and the Eagles will maintain faith in the second-year player. Nic Naitanui also had a quieter game after an impressive return against Sydney, but he still managed to lead the hit-outs in dominant partnership with Scott Lycett, registering 33 with 10 to advantage.
WAFL Report & Selection Forecast
It was a dark day for the Royals as they were thumped in their opening game of the 2018 WAFL season by Subiaco, to the tune of 118 points. Despite the humiliating defeat there were still some bright performances from Eagles on the fringe of selection. Mark Hutchings was arguably East Perth’s best player with 29 disposals and six tackles and having been named emergency for West Coasts’ first two games, he should feature in selection table discussions again for the Geelong game.
Another who shone after an impressive pre-season was rookie Braydon Ainsworth who had 24 disposals and managed three shots on goal (although he could only conjure up three behinds). Ainsworth has been thereabouts so far this season, but with four debutants already at West Coast in the opening two rounds, it is unlikely the match committee will make it five players in the opening three games.
Fraser McInnes worked hard in the ruck for 21 possessions, 36 hit-outs and two goals, while a forgotten youngster in Luke Partington also gathered 21 touches. Both players though face uphill battles to break into the Eagles’ side in their customary positions. Jarrod Brander clunked a couple of big strong marks and finished with a goal, but Francis Watson and Malcolm Karpany were disappointing managing just six and five disposals, respectively. Jack Petruccelle also only had seven disposals in his first outing since breaking a finger during the JLT, but showed a couple of moments to suggest that he will be on the radar for an Eagles berth later in the season.