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.