West Coast secured a finals berth in its inaugural WAFL season with an inspired win over East Fremantle at Mineral Resources Park on Sunday.
With a top five spot up for grabs, the Eagles jumped out of the gates early before withstanding a second-half comeback from the Sharks to prevail 12.10 (82) to 8.11 (59).
Brendon Ah Chee was arguably best-on-ground with 25 disposals and four goals, while Hamish Brayshaw and Matthew Allen led the Eagles’ midfield with 26 disposals apiece.
Thomas Bennett was the Sharks’ best with 25 disposals.
Nathan Vardy got the Eagles off to the ideal start, booting the first goal of the game inside the opening two minutes.
Andrew Stokes gave the Sharks the lead late in the first, before Hamish Brayshaw converted from outside 50 to give the Eagles a five-point advantage at the first break.
A Corey Holmes set shot got the Sharks going at the start the second term, but Brendon Ah Chee responded with a snap-shot from 40-metres out as West Coast regained momentum.
Bailey Williams then set up Keegan Brooksby for his first goal of the game, pushing the Eagles’ lead to 12-points.
Goals to Ah Chee and Luke Foley extended West Coast’s lead, before Ryan Lester-Smith converted from outside 50 with a shot after the siren, as the Eagles took a 43-27 lead at half-time.
The Eagles continued to pile on the pressure at the start of the third term, with captain Fraser McInnes extending their buffer to 21-points, before a Timothy Bockman set-shot brought the margin back to within three kicks.
Ah Chee slotted his third goal late in the stanza to give West Coast a 17-point advatange into the final change.
Early goals to Stokes and Tom Monaghan brought the margin back to just five-points, before Ah Chee stepped up once again by booting his fourth goal to help the Eagles regain momentum.
Williams clunked a big mark and converted to bolster West Coast’s lead, before Xavier O’Neill put the icing on the cake late in the fourth quarter to secure a 23-point win.
The result helped West Coast secure fourth spot on the ladder.
They are now set to face West Perth in an elimination final at HBF Arena Joondalup on Sunday.
Defender Kurt Mutimer said the Eagles were relieved to lock in their finals spot.
“It’s a pretty big relief,” Mutimer said.
“We didn’t know going into this game whether we were going to play finals or not, but we just focused on the game today and we got the result, so we’re over the moon.”
West Coast will head into finals in good form, having won their last three games of the season.
Mutimer believed the side would take confidence from their late-season surge.
“It definitely gives you a lot of confidence heading into finals,” he said.
“We’ve won three in a row and it’s been against some pretty good opposition, so it definitely gives us a lot of confidence heading into next weekend against another good team.”