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West Coast Eagles

Last time we met the Saints

Last time we met the Saints West Coast registered its tenth-straight victory of season 2018 with a 13-point triumph over St Kilda

Three quarters into this game and it seemed it was done and dusted. The West Coast Eagles were eight goals up, the ground work was done and all that was required was another 30 minutes of toil and the players could head to their mid-season break contented.

But the last 30 minutes did not play out the way most of the 54,000 fans at Optus Stadium had imagined.

Rather than the Eagles powering away to a routine victory, the Saints owned the final term, rattling on seven goals – as many as they had managed to that stage of the game – and caused groans of anguish in the home crowd, rather than squeals of delight.

In the end, the Eagles had to be satisfied with just a 13-point victory and it was one of those rare occasions when the vanquished had more to celebrate than the victors.

While the margin might not have been what the Eagles faithful had visualised at the start of the last term, there was some solace in the broader picture, as the Eagles went into the mid-season break with a remarkable 10-1 record, sitting atop the premiership table.

They had won 10 straight after losing first-up to Sydney – an astonishing winning streak that even the most ardent of Eagles fans would not have predicted.

And they were never seriously threatened on this night when the club celebrated Sir Doug Nicholls Round with fitting pre- and post-game ceremonies.

Victory was achieved despite losing the game’s most dominant forward, Jack Darling, who suffered a hairline fracture in his right ankle following a first-quarter mishap.

In his absence dual Coleman medallist Josh Kennedy stamped his authority on the contest with six goals, three of them in a dominant period in the third term that did so much to put the Saints out of business at the last change.   

In addition, midfielder Andrew Gaff again accumulated big numbers and was well supported by Jack Redden, Mark Hutchings and Dom Sheed, who had been dropped on the eve of the game, but given a reprieve when Luke Shuey did not come up, spending another week recovering from a hamstring issue.

Hutchings was an effective minder for highly-regarded Saints midfielder Jack Steven. While Steven still had 24 possessions, 16 of them were handballs and he gained only 180 metres with ball in hand – supporting the theory that Hutchings muzzled the key Saints ball-winner.

Down back, captain Shannon Hurn was outstanding taking 12 marks, a number equalled by Jeremy McGovern, while Tom Barrass and Tom Cole were also solid contributors.

Round 11 v St Kilda
Saturday, June 2

West Coast Eagles            5.0          10.1        15.3        16.5          101
St Kilda                                 2.1            5.3        7.3         14.4           88
Goals – West Coast Eagles: Kennedy 6; Cripps, LeCras, Naitanui 2; Gaff, Sheed, Waterman, Rioli.
St Kilda: Membrey 6; Gresham, Newnes 2; Lonie, Sinclair, Weller, McCartin.
At Optus Stadium
Crowd: 54,188