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West Coast Eagles

WAFL: Eagles outlast Royals in hard-fought contest

Xavier O'Neill surges the ball forward at Leederville Oval

West Coast kept their finals hopes alive by defeating East Perth in a wet and wild affair at Leederville Oval on Friday night.

The Eagles thrived in the trying conditions, dominating possession and territory for much of the game to record a vital 4.11 (35) to 1.5 (11) victory.

Chris Masten led the Eagles’ midfield with 25 disposals and Hamish Brayshaw finished with 24 possessions, while Keegan Brooksby and Nathan Vardy dominated the ruck contest by combining for 46 hitouts.

Jackson Ramsay was the Royals’ best. He collected a game-high 29 disposals.

 

The Eagles dominated possession in the opening stages but were unable to capitalise, missing their first five shots to start the game.

Nic Reid got the breakthrough with a soccer along the ground as the away side took an 11-0 lead into the first break.

Things started more smoothly for West Coast in the second term when Vardy kicking the side’s second goal just three minutes after the resumption of play.

Bailey Williams followed Reid’s lead with a soccer along the ground to give the Eagles a 24-point lead at the main break.

Outstanding defence from West Coast helped keep the Royals scoreless in the first half.

The third quarter proved to be another tight tussle.

Pressure around the contest was immense, as neither side could break away.

Both teams struggled to convert on the scoreboard, as the Eagles took a 27-1 lead at the final change.

After being held goalless for the first three quarters, East Perth slotted their first goal of the game when Angus Scott nailed a 15-metre snap shot just 30 seconds into the final term.

The Royals had their opportunities in the fourth but were unable to convert, booting four consecutive behinds in the opening ten minutes.

With the margin at 17 points 20 minutes into the final term, the play of the evening started when Hamish Brayshaw booted the ball long into the Eagles’ forward 50.

Jarrod Cameron beat two Royals defenders to the ball, edged it forward before lunging at the last minute to soccer through an extraordinary major.

That was enough to give the away side some breathing space, as the Eagles ran out winners by 24-points.

 

Vardy said the Eagles enjoyed the slog in the wet.

“I thought it was going to be wet, but I didn’t think there were going to be lakes out there,” he said.

“Once it got really wet I think we all saw it as an opportunity to dig in and have a bit of fun, which is important.

“We were focused on taking field position, moving the ball forward and seizing our opportunities.

“Those conditions kind of free you up, because you know there are going to be plenty of mistakes. We just tried to keep hunting the footy, not worry about the mistakes and play our role.”

Vardy said the team was excited to keep their finals hopes alive and that their attention had already turned to next Sunday’s must-win match with East Fremantle.

“We knew that we had to win our last three games to be a chance,” he said.

“We’ve got two of those three wins now. We really enjoyed tonight’s game, but now we’re focused on getting ready to take on the Sharks.”