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Partington laps up finals experience

Rhys Dickinson  September 13, 2017 4:30 PM

Most hostile game I've played in: Partington Young Eagles midfielder Luke Partington reflects on his first ever AFL final while looking ahead to this week's match against GWS
AFL 2017 First Elimination Final - Port Adelaide v West Coast

Luke Partington keeps his feet following a solid hit from Port Adelaide's Ollie Wines

Luke Partington could not have imagined a better homecoming party than the one he experienced last Saturday night.

The 19-year-old’s first AFL game as a West Coast Eagle in his native South Australia was certainly one to remember – an extra-time, after-the-siren elimination final win against his childhood team, Port Adelaide.

Partington said he felt relatively unfazed by the bright lights of finals football throughout most of the contest.

He amassed 11 disposals, five contested possessions, three marks, two tackles, two inside 50s and distributed the ball at an efficient 72.7 per cent in his first September appearance.

“It’s definitely a final, so it’s a different level up, but compared to the other games I don’t feel like there was too much difference,” Partington revealed.

“For me personally, having 40,000 fans against you is definitely the most hostile game I’ve played. There was no hometown love.

“But when you’re playing footy you’re in the moment; you don’t really take too much notice of it. It’s sort of a factor that you don’t really consider too much when you’re out there playing.”

However, the 20-year-old Eagle conceded his heart was racing when teammate Luke Shuey was lining up his potential match-winning shot at goal after the final siren.

Stationed on the bench at the time, Partington said he had a perfect view of the pivotal drop punt.

“I spent the extra time on the bench and the experienced guys were out there,” he said.

“I was standing up besides the bench there. I was definitely not sitting down, because there were some pretty nervous moments.

“As soon as ‘Boots’ kicked that goal we were storming on to the ground.”

It has been quite a remarkable year for the Tumby Bay product, who was seemingly banging on the match committee’s door all season until he finally earned a call up for West Coast’s round 19 encounter against Brisbane at Domain Stadium.

Deployed at half-forward, he has averaged 11.8 disposals, 1.3 tackles and 1.7 clearances across his six AFL games to date.

However, the humble Tumby Bay product knows he’s got a lot more to learn about playing top-flight football.

“If you had of told me that I’d have the season I’ve had I would probably take it,” Partington said.

“I had some consistent form in the WAFL and then got an opportunity with the senior guys and I’ve been scraping through the last few weeks. I haven’t been setting the world on fire, but I feel like I’m doing a few things right and then working on the areas I need to work on.”

Partington will get plenty of time to reflect on his sophomore year at season’s end, but his immediate focus is Saturday’s semi-final clash with Greater Western Sydney.

He said the team would take a lot of confidence into its bout with the Giants.

“I think we pushed them pretty well when we played them in round 22. We were with them right the way until the last minutes of the game when they got away from us,” he said.

“We’ll take confidence from that. We didn’t play our best game of footy over there; we’ve got plenty to improve on. We’ll prepare the same as we have all year.”