Beau Waters believes only self-implosion stands between West Coast and a fourth premiership after a disappointing but belief-building loss to Collingwood at the MCG on Saturday.
Waters admitted letting his team down with a one-match ban for a head-high bump on Brisbane's Jack Redden was a driving force behind a personal display that many critics rated as best-afield.
He lamented that an important win at the MCG against a genuine premiership rival had gone begging, but said the contest gives the Eagles great optimism that they can beat any opponent this season.
"There's always an element of disappointment after a close loss like that," Waters said. "But we talked about the fact that premierships aren't won in June and great sides finish on top and don't win the grand final.
"Collingwood are a good side and a premiership team two years ago and while we're by no means content with what happened today, it's a big step up.
"I thought our intensity and pressure was terrific and the game was decided by one kick at the end of the day. Our ambition is to keep building each week to improve.
"If we bring the intensity we brought today, we're going to have another crack at the sides that are the benchmarks in the finals series.
"Our biggest opponent is ourselves, you battle with your own demons. If we set the tempo and control the games, irrespective of the opponent, we'll get the desired result."
Waters said not having played for 20 days because of his suspension and the bye had left him uncomfortable with the speed of Saturday's intense battle. But he soon acclimatised to be a key player.
"You're always disappointed to let the team down by getting suspended," he said. "It's one of those fine lines. Attack on the ball is one of my strengths and unfortunately I had to pay the penalty for a reckless bump.
"But I'm glad to be back and you feel like you've got a lot more control on the field than sitting in the coach's box."
The match was played in front of a record West Coast home-and-away crowd of 62,957, eclipsing the 62,586 who saw the Eagles beat Sydney by one point in round one, 2007.
Forward Quinten Lynch, a strong contributor early in his 200th match, said the loss had dampened any milestone celebrations.
"I'm very disappointed that we didn't get away with the points," he said. "It's not about my 200 games, we need to get better and win these games away from home.
"I'm very proud of the boys and the way we fought back and got in front, obviously. It was a good effort by the boys, but obviously not good enough."
The Eagles will return to Patersons Stadium this Saturday and will be hot favourites to claim an 18th successive win at home when they play the winless Gold Coast.
"While we're by no means content with what happened today, it's a big step up." " West Coast star _Beau Waters _
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