Eagles need to show more after scrappy win
Eagles need to show more after scrappy win

While Port Adelaide may have fallen short of showing Travis Boak why he should stay, West Coast hardly gave former Eagle Brad Ebert a compelling sense of what he is missing.

While the Eagles' 14.14 (98) to 6.14 (50) victory at AAMI Stadium yesterday was just the first time they had won three in a row against Port since the first three meetings between the two clubs, it was un- convincing and rarely acquainted with the brand of football needed to push them into the top four.

The Power copped a major blow before the match when Boak withdrew with a hip complaint and was replaced by Collingwood recruit John McCarthy. The omission would be a precursor for the attrition to come in the first half of the match.

West Coast defender Adam Selwood was subbed out at quarter time after a collision with teammate Jacob Brennan left him dazed.

Power midfielder Paul Stewart, who had staggered from the ground alongside Selwood after copping an accidental knee to the head from Daniel Kerr, followed the Eagle out of the match soon afterwards.

Eagles wingman Andrew Gaff was forced into the rooms at quarter time for treatment. He returned early in the second quarter but was back in the rooms after 10 minutes.

Ebert was trying hard, but his commitment was hindered by some friendly fire and limped to the bench with a corked leg just before half time after teammate Matt Thomas had recklessly cannoned into him at a stoppage.

Ruckman Dean Cox also copped a painful poke in the right eye and Port's Andrew Moore appeared to hurt his right hamstring.

West Coast had a sloppy start with uncontested misses on goal from Luke Shuey, Scott Selwood, Jack Darling and Quinten Lynch. But the class difference between the two teams became increasingly obvious.

A slick passage of play in the second term opened the scoring floodgates for the visitors.

Leading by 16 points, ruckman Nic Naitanui deftly palmed a knock at half-back into the path of Chris Masten, who gave it to Matt Priddis before collecting it back again. He then gave it to Josh Hill, who took two bounces and successfully ran into an open goal.

From there, the margin simply got wider.

Power's early fierce tackling, inspired by a midweek session with 2004 premiership star Byron Pickett, lapsed into insignificance and the Eagles stormed away to a 43-point buffer at the main break.

Surprisingly, the Power led the clearances 19-10 at that point and had been inside their forward 50 just one less time.

But their scoring options were few and far between.

When Danyle Pearce booted his team's only first-half goal at the 14-minute mark of the second term, the all-time AAMI Stadium record low crowd of 13,683 erupted … actually, it was more of a mild commotion.

But Power were allowing too much space for too many of West Coast's key link men, notably Scott Selwood, Beau Waters, Andrew Embley, Shuey, Priddis and Masten.

Kane Cornes, Dom Cassisi and McCarthy were toiling hard to make sure the Power also had a solid share of possession, but they could not muster any threatening attack.

Naitanui booted the first goal of the third term after five minutes and the long afternoon appeared to be getting longer for Port.

But West Coast's high standards fell away significantly and some sense of a contest returned. They became undisciplined and untidy and the Power cut the margin to 30 points with a quarter to play.

A 50m penalty conceded by Will Schofield to Justin Westhoff and a putrid kick across the goal by Eric Mackenzie, which gifted a goal to Brett Ebert, were clear signs that West Coast's intensity switch had been turned off.

Put bluntly, they played the sort of football that Collingwood would chew up at Patersons Stadium next Saturday night.

Even the lowly Power were able to apply some punishment.

The Eagles still lacked defensive intensity all over the ground in the final term, but their edge in talent allowed them to again take control of the game and notch a win that keeps top-four hopes flickering.

The West Australian

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