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West Coast Eagles

Premiership plays: The moments that mattered

Highlights: 2018 Grand Final Check out all the highlights from one of the best Grand Finals in recent memory

1. Liam Ryan: That mark
To say Liam Ryan’s Grand Final was a rollercoaster of highs and lows would be the understatement of the century. The first-year Eagle appeared nervy at moments, dropping marks and missing shots at goal that he would normally convert with ease. But when his moment came, the 21-year-old delivered. With just 2.25 minutes remaining on the clock, Ryan went back with the flight of the ball and soared over Magpies Jack Crisp and Tom Langdon – plus teammate Mark Hutchings – and reeled in a mind-boggling contested mark. He got to his feet quickly, wrestled the Sherrin off Langdon, and delivered a well-placed pass to Dom Sheed, who kicked the match-winning goal.

2. Mark LeCras: A crunching tackle
West Coast’s third most prolific goal kicker of all time did not hit the scoreboard in the Grand Final, but he played a big part in one of the game’s most important majors. West Coast were desperate to hit back after Mason Cox extended the Pies’ margin to 11 points in the fourth minute of the final term. At the ensuing centre bounce, LeCras stuck a huge tackle on Collingwood’s Brayden Sier which spilled the Sherrin free in the centre square. The wily veteran bounced up after his tackle and edged the ball to Elliot Yeo, who threw it onto his left boot and hit a free Jack Darling. The third-quarter hero found a free Liam Ryan by hand, who hit up Josh Kennedy in the left pocket. His goal got the Eagles back in the contest and fuelled belief that they could overrun the plucky Pies.

4. Dom Sheed: The match-winner
How good was Dom Sheed’s match-winning goal to sink the Pies? Only perfect. The kid from Kalgoorlie capped off a stellar game with a set shot that will be remembered as one of the modern era’s finest Grand Final moments. With just 2.15 minutes left in the game, Sheed reeled in an uncontested mark near the boundary – largely thanks to a clever shepherd from Willie Rioli –and hurried back off the mark to size up the most important drop punt of his life. He strode in, taking exactly 10 steps, and pierced the major opening from the most acute angle to put West Coast four points up with less than two minutes to play.



WATCH: DOM SHEED'S MATCH-WINNING GOAL


6. Elliot Yeo: That long bomb
The Grand Final was a slog for the club’s reigning best and fairest player. After a commanding performance against Collingwood in the qualifying final, Magpies senior coach Nathan Buckley sent his shutdown specialist Levi Greenwood to Yeo in a bid to quell his influence on the contest. Greenwood managed to keep Yeo in check for most of the day, but he could do nothing to stop him kicking one of the game’s most important majors in the third quarter. Yeo picked off an errant transition kick from Taylor Adams (albeit with the help of a Collingwood trainer, who blocked Jaidyn Stephenson’s path to the contest) and put the Eagles in the lead for the first time with a pure set shot from beyond the 50m arc.



WATCH: YEO SENDS MCG INTO A FRENZY

7. Chris Masten: A timely smother
The moment could not have been bigger. Collingwood, leading by two points with less than four minutes remaining in the game, had the ball locked in their forward 50m and were looking to ice the game. The ball spilled out of a contest into the arms of Taylor Adams – arguably Collingwood’s best player on the day – and his eyes lit up as he threw the Sherrin onto his right boot. Fortunately, Masten was in the right place at the right time and smothered what could have been the match-winner for the Magpies.

8. Jack Redden: A pin-point pass
West Coast Eagles midfielder Jack Redden prides himself on doing the little things right and that's just what he did at a critical time in the penultimate term. Midway through the third term, when the Eagles were chipping away at Collingwood’s lead, Redden played the role of sweeper at the centre bounce, received a quick handball from Dom Sheed out the back and delivered a precise inside 50 entry to a charging Jack Darling. The play didn’t result in a goal, but it was indicative of Redden’s performance – composed and workman-like.

13. Luke Shuey: Critical goal
The 2018 Norm Smith medallist produced countless highlights in what was the best individual performance by any player in a final for the last decade, but his goal in the second quarter was a game changer for West Coast. Trailing by 18 points with just 1.45 minutes remaining in the second term, the Eagles desperately needed another major to edge closer to Collingwood before the main break. Enter Shuey. The 2016 John Worsfold medallist outworked his stoppage minder Brayden Sier, burst into space, collected a quick handball from Dom Sheed and nailed his right-foot snap from 40m. It was a pivotal moment that gave West Coast belief that they could run down the Magpies.

 

14. Liam Duggan: A brave clunk
Emerging Eagles defender Liam Duggan was solid as a rock in defence on Grand Final day and particularly strong in the air. His biggest moment, arguably, came midway through the second quarter when West Coast were working their way back into the contest following a shaky opening quarter. The hard-nosed 21-year-old tracked back with the flight of a Brayden Sier inside 50, never let his eyes stray from the Sherrin, and took a courageous contested clunk against Collingwood big man Mason Cox.

15. Jamie Cripps: The comeback begins
It was the goal that gave West Coast fans hope of a come-from-behind victory. After an early goal to Josh Kennedy and a quick response by Mason Cox, West Coast were still down by 12 points early in the third term. But moments later West Coast created an opportunity in their forward half. Willie Rioli pounced on a loose ball and spun past a would-be tackler. Cripps, who had been tracking the play for about 20m, bobbed up on the boundary side, reeled in the handball from Rioli and snapped truly on his right boot to get the Eagles within a goal of the Pies.

17. Josh Kennedy: Cool under pressure
West Coast were in desperate need of a goal after Mason Cox booted his second major to give Collingwood an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter. As he generally does, Kennedy bobbed up in an important moment and lunged for a deft pass from Liam Ryan near the boundary. The two time Coleman medallist took some time to gather his thoughts after the mark before curling his right-foot snap directly over the goal umpire’s hat.  

18. Daniel Venables: A valuable tap
It might not be your day, but it can be your moment. Daniel Venables, playing just his 15th game in blue and gold, had a quiet Grand Final, collecting just three disposals against Collingwood at the MCG. However, he did play a part in one of the game’s biggest moments. While fans will long regale the tale of Willie Rioli’s quick spin and give to eventual goal kicker Jamie Cripps, not many will remember Venables’ role in the crucial goal. As the Sherrin tumbled towards the goal square, Venables beat two Magpies – Chris Mayne and Brayden Maynard – to the ball and tapped it on to Rioli. The act was small, but when a game is decided by just five points, every little moment counts.

WATCH: VENABLES' TAP HELPS RIOLI AND CRIPPS GET TO WORK

19. Nathan Vardy: A critical clunk and goal
After levelling scores before the last change of ends, West Coast looked destined to storm home in the fourth quarter. But Eagles' fans had cause for concern when Collingwood exploded out of the blocks with two goals in the space of the opening minute of the final term. Desperately needing to hit back, West Coast launched the ball inside 50 and Vardy reeled in a huge pack park opposed Collingwood leapers Jeremy Howe and Tom Langdon. The 27-year-old, cool as you like, slotted his set shot from 45m to get West Coast back to within a kick of the Pies.

20. Jeremy McGovern: An intercept for the ages
Cometh the hour, cometh the Gov. Two points down with less than three minutes remaining in the game, West Coast needed to throw caution to the wind to win the game. When Collingwood’s Adam Treloar crumbed a loose ball on the wing and sent the ball inside the Magpies’ attacking arc, time – and most players – appeared to stand still. Not McGovern. The three-time all-Australian left his direct opponent, dangerous goal sneak Jordan De Goey, leapt towards the heavens and clunked a huge intercept mark over rival Brody Mihocek. The mark was extraordinary, as was the ensuing corridor kick that found ruckman Nathan Vardy. McGovern hit his fellow big man lace out, and the Eagles worked their way down the field with a brilliant piece of ball movement that resulted in Dom Sheed’s game-defining goal.

WATCH: THE LAST TWO MINUTES OF THE 2018 AFL GRAND FINAL

23. Lewis Jetta: A silky pass
While punters will long remember Jetta’s post-match antics, especially his on-stage dance moves, he was all class during the Grand Final contest. Regarded as one of the club’s best ball users, Jetta showed off his vision and skills to set up Mark Hutchings’ important second-term goal with a clever in-board pass to Liam Ryan from near the far boundary. The ball found its intended target and Ryan found a free Mark LeCras in the 50m arc, who fired a high handball over to an unmanned Hutchings.

25. Shannon Hurn: Slow and steady wins the race
Collingwood, with a head full of steam following three quick first-quarter goals, looked destined to boot their fourth within the space of 11 minutes when Hurn was caught one out with nippy Magpie and 2018 NAB Rising Star Jaidyn Stephenson. But the wily Hurn used his footy smarts to body Stephenson out of the contest and lock the ball in until the reinforcements, namely Jeremy McGovern, arrived in support. It was a small moment, but big for the usually unflappable Eagles’ captain, who had made some uncharacteristic errors in the opening minutes.

27. Jack Darling: A strong mark and smart play
Following a quiet first half that featured just three disposals and one mark, Darling made his presence felt early in the third term. He took a strong, confidence building clunk in the opening exchanges of the quarter and produced his finest moment minutes later, when he reeled in a strong mark following a centre clearance from teammate Jack Redden. Eyeing a set shot beyond 50m, Darling pulled his kick and hit up a free Scott Lycett. Unfortunately Lycett failed to convert his kick from 30m, but Darling’s contested grab and smart play spurred him onto greater heights for the day.

28. Tom Cole: A brave grab
Like many of his teammates, Cole got off to a shaky start in the season 2018 decider, but he came good when it mattered most. With scores sitting at 73-71 in Collingwood’s favour and less than 10 minutes on the clock, the Magpies were pressing for a game-breaking goal when Jordan De Goey launched the ball into their attacking zone. Fortunately Cole, playing as the Eagles’ loose man in defence at the time, read the drop of the ball best, beat Collingwood colossus Mason Cox and Brody Mihocek to the landing zone and reeled in an important intercept grab. Better yet, he was awarded a 50m free kick when Mihocek took him to ground after the clunk.

29. Scott Lycett: Cool under pressure
Working in tandem with fellow big man Nathan Vardy, Scott Lycett did an outstanding job to keep influential Magpie Brodie Grundy to just 10 disposals. However, it was an attacking piece of play from Lycett that caught our attention. Trailing 15-38 in the second term, West Coast were in desperate need of another goal to reduce Collingwood’s lead ahead of the main break. Lycett, stationed down the line for a big mark, beat Collingwood’s Tom Langdon to a loose ball, collected it cleanly and dished it off to Lewis Jetta, who sent the ball forward where it eventually found its way to a free Mark Hutchings, who goaled from point-blank range.

31. Will Schofield: Two-on-one win
Will Schofield was absolutely immense on Grand Final day and, remarkably, did not lose a one-on-one contest the entire game. But it was his effort in a two-on-one contest in the second term that caught our eye. Isolated inside 50 with the dangerous Jordan De Goey and Jaidyn Stephenson nearby, Schofield man handled De Goey and brought Travis Varcoe’s inside 50 to ground before pushing the ball towards the boundary, giving Jeremy McGovern and Shannon Hurn enough time to come in an extinguish the Magpies' attacking foray.

34. Mark Hutchings: A much-needed major
Mark Hutchings’ superb run-with job on Collingwood game breaker Steele Sidebottom has been well documented, but a moment he will cherish forever is the goal he booted late in the second term. With their backs against the walls, West Coast were crying out for a goal to get within 17 points of the Pies. The Eagles moved the ball down the wing, outworked the Magpies at the contest and created some space behind their defensive zone. Hutchings, working off his opponent James Aish, got on the end of a quick over-the-top handball and sent the Sherrin into the MCG’s second tier from the goal square.

37. Tom Barrass: Setting the tone
How good was Tom Barrass in the Grand Final? The 22-year-old key defender was solid as a rock, especially in the first half where he kept Collingwood colossus Mason Cox to just one disposal. Barrass laid the foundations for his impressive performance with a clutch mark in the opening exchanges of the match.  Caught one-out with Cox 20m from the goals, Barrass bodied the big Texan out of the contest, leapt back and clunked a vital mark. At game’s end, Barrass had 10 marks and 13 one percenters in his stats column – all of which could have qualified for this article.

WATCH: SIMPSON AND HURN HOIST THE PREMIERSHIP CUP

44. Willie Rioli: The spin and give
We could have gone with Willie’s mind-boggling (read fortunate) first-quarter goal given its importance in the context of the match, but his extraordinary collect, spin and give to set up Jamie Cripps’ crucial third-quarter major was simply breath taking. The ‘vintage Rioli’ play and ensuing goal gave the blue and gold army hope that their team could muster a remarkable come-from-behind victory, which they achieved in the dying moments of the 2018 season decider.