Gi­ant-slay­ing Ea­gles

Sunday Herald Sun - - Motorsport -

IT was as much about who wasn’t there as who was in a con­test be­tween two top-four con­tenders miss­ing a host of ma­jor draw­cards.

In the end, it was West Coast’s abil­ity to cover the loss of Nic Nai­tanui, Luke Shuey and Jeremy McGovern that told the story as the Ea­gles posted what could be a crit­i­cal 25-point win over Greater Western Syd­ney yes­ter­day.

The gritty tri­umph at a wet and windy Spot­less Sta­dium was tes­ta­ment to the new­found depth, ta­lent and be­lief the Ea­gles have de­vel­oped.

It was a sev­enth straight vic­tory for West Coast, which moved to the top of the ta­ble above Rich­mond which it hosts next week, and im­proved the Ea­gles’ record this year to 3-0 out­side Western Aus­tralia.

The Ea­gles un­der­lined their depth with a strong per­for­mance against a Giants side that lost Phil Davis and Matt de Boer dur­ing the game.

West Coast had the most po­tent for­ward in Jack Dar­ling, who kicked four goals, all in the first half. West Coast led by 14 early, but GWS kicked four straight goals ei­ther side of quar­ter-time to lead by 10.

The Ea­gles re­asserted them­selves when Dar­ling kicked three of five goals for the vis­i­tors, as they re­gained the lead be­fore half­time and never re­lin­quished their ad­van­tage.

The Giants’ kick­ing ef­fi­ciency, which was atro­cious in their heavy loss to Gee­long last week, was poor again.

“Our ball use is hurt­ing us,” Giants coach Leon Cameron said. “We can’t shy away from that. To win con­tested ball, out tackle them and but then give them seven goals in the front half, that’s de­flat­ing.

“Fifty per cent dis­posal ef­fi­ciency isn’t up to AFL stan­dard.”

GWS lost de Boer at half­time due to a ham­string in­jury.

In the third quar­ter, Phil Davis’s game ended when he was ac­ci­den­tally el­bowed by Dar­ling in an aerial con­test and Lachie Whit­field went off with what ap­peared to be a shin prob­lem, but re­turned later in the term.

The Giants ran out of steam and failed to kick a goal af­ter the 21-minute mark of the third quar­ter, reg­is­ter­ing just two be­hinds from 17 for­ward 50 en­tries in that pe­riod.

The Ea­gles had plenty of good per­form­ers with Tom Bar­rass, Will Schofield and Brad Shep­pard strong down back. Jack Red­den gath­ered a ca­reer-high 13 clear­ances and An­drew Gaff and El­liot Yeo also got plenty of the ball.

In his 200th game, GWS co­cap­tain Cal­lan Ward col­lected 30 touches.

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