Glory beck­ons for high-fly­ing Ea­gles

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Footy Finals 2015 - Fran­cis Curro

THE West Coast Ea­gles will be vy­ing to make their first grand fi­nal since win­ning their third flag in 2006.

The Ea­gles should be boosted by the re­turn of Brown­low Medal­list Matthew Prid­dis and midfielder Chris Mas­ten for their pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal against North Mel­bourne on Satur­day.

Both missed the qual­i­fy­ing fi­nal win over Hawthorn with in­jury.

The WA side has been one of the sur­prise pack­ets of the sea­son, with many ex­perts tip­ping them to fin­ish in the bot­tom part of the lad­der.

Sev­eral key play­ers have had ca­reerbest years, with An­drew Gaff, Jeremy McGovern, Nic Nai­tanui, Prid­dis and Coleman Medal­list Josh Kennedy all mak­ing it into the All-Aus­tralian team short­list.

It didn’t look good at the start of the sea­son when reign­ing club cham­pion and full­back Eric Macken­zie, and key po­si­tion

Pic­tures: An­drew Ritchie player Mitch Brown, went down with sea­son-end­ing knee in­juries.

But the Ea­gles’ rise has been a com­bi­na­tion of hav­ing the sec­ond-best at­tack and fourth-best de­fence in the com­pe­ti­tion.

In­clud­ing the qual­i­fy­ing fi­nal against Hawthorn, the Ea­gles av­er­age 105 points per game while re­strict­ing their op­po­nents to an av­er­age score of 71.

A key rea­son for the rise has been the amount of scor­ing they have piled on op­po­si­tion teams, with Josh Kennedy re­warded

www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d443576 with the Coleman Medal for kick­ing the most goals this sea­son (75), and goal sneak Mark LeCras has re­gained form and re­mained rel­a­tively in­jury free. The pair have com­bined to kick more than a third of the Ea­gles’ goals this sea­son (121).

Just as telling has been the ‘Wea­gles Web’, their trade­mark de­fen­sive web which main­tains its struc­ture to com­bat key parts of the area at all times.

This has helped keep op­po­nents’ scores to less than 12 goals on av­er­age.

Nic Nai­tanui flies above the pack; Will Schofield (top); Scott Sel­wood es­capes four Hawks (bot­tom); Matt Rosa marks.

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