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West Coast Eagles

Five things we learned against the Saints

Liam Ryan was one of West Coast's best against the Saints at Marvel Stadium

1. Key forwards Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling did not dominate against the Saints but their contributions were valuable and they had their biggest moments when it counted most. In the third quarter when the Eagles broke away to a match-winning lead, Kennedy kicked successive goals, one of them after a statement contested mark. Darling took eight marks for the night, the last of them in the dying moments and when he slotted his first major it was the absolute sealer.

2. Crowds gasp in anticipation when Liam Ryan goes near the ball and there's a sense of expectation that he will fly for a big mark. But there is much more to his game than just marks and goals. Again, his pressure around the ball was outstanding and he was involved in 10 of the Eagles' scores. Additionally, he committed 10 pressure acts to be a valuable contributor to the victory.

3. Hard working forward Jamie Cripps in his 150th AFL game, his first 16 played with the Saints, again showed his appetite for hard work. Cripps runs up and down the ground linking with defence and midfield to create scoring opportunities. He was again a valuable contributor with 13 contested possessions and recording a remarkable 28 pressure acts – so often the things that go unnoticed.

4. In the last fortnight the capacity of the Eagles to claim victory has been aided by the return to form of both Dom Sheed and Elliot Yeo. In conjunction with Andrew Gaff and Luke Shuey, they provided the Eagles with important grunt through the engine room. Sheed and Yeo had 51 possessions between them and helped the transition from defence to attack.

5. The performance of ruckman Nathan Vardy was important in the Eagles' success. While he is not one of the big men in the AFL who collects 20-plus possessions a game, he enabled the Eagles to win the clearances 35-30, winning a game-high 31 hit outs, opposed largely to Rowan Marshall. He had nine touches himself and in conjunction with Oscar Allen gave the Eagles the advantage in that area of the game.