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Five things we learned against the Suns

Gary Stocks  April 15, 2018 4:30 PM

Jamie Cripps and Josh Kennedy celebrate a goal

Jamie Cripps and Josh Kennedy celebrate a goal

1. One of the question on the lips of punters going into the clash with Gold Coast was how the forward structure would function with another tall – dual Coleman medallist Josh Kennedy coming back into the team. In his absence the attacking set-up has been vastly different and it was a new look for 2018 without Liam Ryan in the team. But Kennedy and Jack Darling, in conjunction with Jake Waterman, Willie Rioli, Mark LeCras and Jamie Cripps hit the scoreboard hard. Darling had nine marks and kicked three goals while Kennedy made a wonderful return, kicking 5.3.

2. Jamie Cripps has been one of the unsung heroes of the West Coast line-up for a number of years, but was outstanding against the Suns. As always, he was involved in a lot of the less glamorous acts in the game that resulted in four goals. His haul came about because of an insatiable work rate. He had 15 pressure acts, nine of his 17 possessions were contested and he also took three marks inside the forward 50 metre arc, generally the result of gut running.

3. The defensive effort of the Eagles was outstanding and was a significant influence on the score differential. The Eagles kicked 21.13 from 57 forward entries while the Suns kicked 9.5 from 46 inside 50 probes. A major factor was that so many of the Suns thrusts fell into the hands of the Bermuda triangle – as skipper Shannon Hurn took 14 marks, Jeremy McGovern latched onto 13 grabs and Tom Barrass dragged in eight catches. While some of those were obviously marks in transition as the ball was chipped around in the back half, a number of them were strong intercepts.

4. In recent times one of the maligned Eagles has been Chris Masten, but he silenced many of his critics with a wonderful contribution. He ran hard and long and was an important link in the chain as the Eagles moved the ball from defence to attack, finishing with 30 possessions and 12 marks. Three of those marks were taken inside the attacking 50 metre zone, the most impressive a strong contested mark to kick his second goal.

5. While Nic Naitanui’s game time has been carefully managed, playing around 56 percent of the match, his impact is pronounced. He had 14 possessions, took four marks and had 33 hit outs. Some of his work is sublime, but aside from those raw numbers he also had four clearances himself, the capacity to follow up his ruck effort inspiring. There is also no doubt the Eagles midfield also has an aggressive mindset with Naitanui in play and that has also been evident with Scott Lycett on the ground. They have done a wonderful job for their team and have been major factors in the first month of the season.