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West Coast Eagles

Last time we met the Pies

Last time we met the Pies West Coast got the better of Collingwood by 22 points at the MCG in round three

As the team bus pulled into the MCG for this showdown with Collingwood, the vibe was noticeably different.

There was a sense that this was a homecoming. A weird feeling given it was a journey into enemy territory, the home ground of the Pies.

But it was also a place of solace. A place with special memories. The scene of a great moment in West Coast Eagles history. The last time the club ventured to Australian sport’s mecca, it left with the most precious piece of silverware, the 2018 AFL Premiership Cup.

The players also found comfort in the knowledge that the Eagles had beaten Collingwood during the qualifying rounds at the same venue on the way to last year’s grand final.

For them, it was good to be back.

A once-intimidating environment was transformed. Familiarity, born from earning the right to be there, was now an experience to embrace. A chance to build another cherished moment.

And this game would have some eerie parallels to the grand final. Collingwood was out of the blocks early, owning the football, if not the scoreboard, before the Eagles fought back.

This time, however, the western interlopers did not wait until the dying minutes to seize the initiative or the lead.

No, on this occasion, they piled on six goals in the second quarter to lead by nine points at the main break. They never surrendered the advantage on the way to a commanding 22-point victory.

On a night when Andrew Gaff returned to senior football with a 35-possession performance, the Eagles midfield was outstanding. Luke Shuey, the Norm Smith medallist from 2018, produced another quality performance.

This time the Pies sent Levi Greenwood to him, but they eventually gave up on the tag because the classy Shuey would not be stopped. Elliot Yeo, Dom Sheed and Jack Redden also did their bit.

While the Pies were always within arm’s reach, they were clinging by their finger nails before history repeated itself.

After Adam Treloar had missed a chance to edge the Pies to within  seven points deep into the final term, Liam Ryan climbed over the top of a pack that included  Brodie Grundy and Jeremy Howe, to mark between wing and half-back.

He then benefitted from a 50 metre penalty, advanced quickly and then hit Sheed with a scything pass at half-forward – diagonally opposite the place where he kicked one of the great pressure goals in grand final history about six months earlier.

With the same calm, measured approach Sheed split the middle, to again give the Eagles a three-goal cushion and the game was never again in doubt.

It made for a memorable debut for defender Josh Rotham, part of a tight unit backward of centre, where skipper Shannon Hurn again excelled while Tom Cole did an outstanding job, largely opposed to Jamie Elliott, Brad Sheppard took 13 marks and Jeremy McGovern did what he does best.

Tom Barrass was opposed to angular American Mason Cox for much of the night and again proved his master.

Round 3 v Collingwood

West Coast Eagles           1.2         7.6         10.8       15.8       98
Collingwood                     3.1         6.3           7.6       11.10    76
Goals – West Coast Eagles: Cripps 4; Sheed, Kennedy 3; Darling, Petruccelle, Ryan, O Allen, Hickey.
Collingwood: De Goey 3; Treloar 2; Mihocek, Beams, Elliott, Thomas, Cox, Sidebottom.