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West Coast Eagles

WAFL: Naitanui inspires Eagles to win

Brady Grey and Bailey Williams celebrate West Coast's win

Nic Naitanui has helped the WAFL Eagles snap a five-game losing streak to keep their finals hopes alive.

West Coast led from start to finish in what was their best performance of the year, defeating East Fremantle 15.15 (105) to 4.9 (33).

Fans turned out in droves to see the return of Naitanui and the star ruckman did not disappoint, collecting 25 hit-outs, 10 disposals, four tackles and three marks on limited minutes.

Star defender Tom Barrass put on a dominant display in his return from a foot injury, collecting 15 disposals and seven marks.

Drew Petrie, taking the field for the first time in more than 18 months, played the majority of his comeback game in defence, collecting 14 disposals and six marks.

Jarrod Brander and Brayden Ainsworth were standouts for the Eagles, each collecting 28 disposals, while Nic Reid starred up forward with four goals.

On the back of Naitanui’s dominance in the ruck, the Eagles came flying out of the gates kicking 4.8 to 0.0 in the first quarter.

After struggling to capitalise on inside 50 entries for the past five games, the Eagles made no mistake against the Sharks. West Coast tallied 14 inside-50s resulting in 12 scoring shots, boasting an inside 50 efficiency of 86 per cent for the first term.

The Eagles’ dominance continued during the second term.

A tap down from Naitanui to Brendon Ah Chee resulted in a Xavier O’Neill goal just 17 seconds into the second term.

Ambrose Ryan got the home side on the board with back-to-back goals, before Reid returned the favour converting two of his own.

A late goal by Keegan Brooksby helped give the Eagles a 59-13 lead at half-time.

Nic Reid picked up where he left off kicking the Eagles’ first of the second half, before Jake Waterman converted from outside 50 to extend West Coast’s lead.

Wet weather slowed down play for much of the third term, as both sides struggled to get inside 50.

A soccer off the ground gave Reid his fourth goal of the game, before Keegan Brooksby converted from 20m out to give the Eagles a 72-point lead at the final change.

The fourth quarter proved to be an even contest, with the term tied at 18 points apiece, as the Eagles ran out 72 point winners.

The win gives the Eagles a much needed boost as they now sit seventh on the ladder with a 3-7 record and a percentage of 82.5 per cent.

Forward Jarrod Brander was ecstatic after the win.

“It’s been a while since we got a win,” Brander said.

“But it was good for the boys to start really well today and then finish strong in trying conditions.”

“It was a real focus today to get off to a good start and get on the front foot early.”

The Eagles finished the game with an inside 50 efficiency of 64 per cent. Brander said forward 50 entries were a key focus during the week.

“That’s something we’ve been working on for a while that mid-forward connection. Giving our forwards some better looks and deeper entries,” he said.

“There was a lot of spirit coming into the game with Nic and Tommy returning. To have Drewy back the boys loved it and they all contributed really well today.”

“If we can stay injury free and the list is pretty healthy I reckon we can stay in the finals hunt and come home strong.”