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Eagles honour milestone men with big win

Travis King, AFL.com.au  April 14, 2018 9:00 PM

The Eagles coasted to a commanding 80-point win over the Suns at Optus Stadium

The Eagles coasted to a commanding 80-point win over the Suns at Optus Stadium

West Coast celebrated Mark LeCras and Nic Naitanui's milestones in style and sounded a clear warning that new home Optus Stadium is fast becoming a formidable venue for opposition sides after annihilating Gold Coast by 80 points on Saturday night.

Coming off a stunning fightback victory over Geelong, the Eagles kept the momentum going and steamrolled the bitterly disappointing Suns to, at least for now, move to second on the ladder with a 3-1 record.

Returning spearhead Josh Kennedy was rusty but still feasted on improved supply, slotting five majors to close within two of overtaking dual premiership hero Peter Sumich's club record 514 goals tally.

West Coast set up the victory with a barnstorming eight-goal second term and cruised to a 21.13 (139) to 9.5 (59) triumph, with the crowd amusing themselves with the Mexican Wave in the final quarter.

It was another promising effort by Adam Simpson's men in front of 51,774 fans, although the thumping win was soured by a potentially serious ankle injury suffered by youngster Daniel Venables.

Reigning club champion Elliot Yeo was outstanding in a variety of roles, Jamie Cripps helped break the game open with four majors, rejuvenated Chris Masten worked hard and LeCras nailed a couple of trademark snaps in his 200th appearance.

Intercept king Jeremy McGovern took five contested marks in a return to his best form after a quiet start to 2018 by his lofty standards.

Naitanui, who achieved life membership in game 150, was influential again but didn’t need to exert the same impact on the midfield battle as previous weeks.

With another 57 inside 50s, the Eagles once again supplied a potent and dynamic forward line, with Willie Rioli (two goals) booting his first career major, Jack Darling (three) continuing his excellent form and Jake Waterman (one) impressing again.

Gold Coast co-captain Tom Lynch lifted after being tied down by Dockers defender Alex Pearce, booting three goals with little support.

WA product David Swallow (29 disposals, one goal) and ex-Crow Jarryd Lyons (26) tried hard in the face of the Eagles' onslaught, and Aaron Hall (26) was much-improved after being tagged out of the Freo defeat, but there wasn't much else to like for coach Stuart Dew.

Gold Coast gave a yelp in the third quarter, which the Suns won by four points after trailing by 54 at the long break, but overall their response to last week's underwhelming defeat was nowhere near up to scratch.

After spending the past week on enemy territory having sold a 'home' game to Fremantle, the Suns would be desperate to get home and forget a terrible trip west.

WA has been a graveyard for the expansion club, which has now lost 11 of 12 matches in Perth, and Gold Coast has lost all seven away clashes with the Eagles by an average of 59 points.

Dew has plenty of thinking to do, with the Suns lacking the hard edge they want to become renowned for and slumping to a 2-2 record ahead of next weekend's QClash.

MEDICAL ROOM

West Coast: After copping an early corkie last week against Geelong, tough defender Brad Sheppard suffered more pain to the same quad and needed strapping after hobbling around in the opening term. Luke Shuey limped to the bench late in the first term but returned to play out the game. Jack Redden came to the interchange limping in the third term but returned, while Daniel Venables continued the carnage after being helped from the ground with a right ankle issue. His injury looked the worst of the lot after he was caught in an awkward position in a tackle.

Gold Coast: Ben Ainsworth came from the field with a blood nose in the first quarter after a high hit in a marking contest and was in the wars later after copping a heavy bump from Mark LeCras in the third term. Tom Lynch hurt his left ankle in the third quarter and came from the field for treatment but returned before the final change.

NEXT UP

The Eagles head to the MCG – where they have won only once in the last six attempts - to take on Carlton on Saturday, while the homeless Suns at least get to return to their home state for the clash with the Lions at the Gabba on Sunday.

WEST COAST   4.4  12.8  15.12  21.13 (139)
GOLD COAST   3.1    4.2    8.4     9.5 (59)

GOALS
West Coast: Kennedy 5, Cripps 4, Darling 3, LeCras 2, Rioli 2, Masten 2, Waterman, Venables, Lycett.
Gold Coast: Lynch 3, Young 2, Sexton, Fiorini, Swallow, Martin.

BEST
West Coast: Yeo, McGovern, Cripps, Duggan, Gaff, Masten, Darling.
Gold Coast: Swallow, Harbrow, Fiorini, Martin, Weller, Lynch.

INJURIES
West Coast: Venables (ankle)
Gold Coast: Ainsworth (concussion)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Dalgleish, O’Gorman, Fleer.

Official crowd: 51,774 at Optus Stadium