New coach Adam Simpson has had a dream start to his coaching career at West Coast with a crushing 65-point point victory over the Western Bulldogs at Patersons Stadium tonight.
The Eagles had to wait until the final game of a split opening round to show they had put a disappointing 2013 behind them but they did it in convincing fashion in the 21.8 (134) to 11.3 (69) win to take second spot on the AFL ladder.
Both Daniel Kerr and legendary former coach John Worsfold were honoured by the crowd of close to 37,000 during the game, but it was a fit Eagles outfit and a new coaching panel that had them in raptures.
Classy forward Mark LeCras was brilliant with five goals and 27 possessions, while Jack Darling added four goals to his forceful defensive efforts and Dean Cox had 23 touches with his 26 hit outs.
Star ruckman Nic Naitanui played out a full game as part of a three-pronged ruck battery, while Dom Sheed earned three disposals in his Eagles debut after coming on as the substitute.
Matt Rosa (34 touches, one goal), captain Darren Glass and fellow defender Eric Mackenzie were also prominent for West Coast.
The only concern for the Eagles could be what looked to be a deliberate trip from Sharrod Wellingham in the third term.
The one-sided result ruined celebrations for veteran Bulldog Robert Murphy’s 250th game but he was one of his side’s best.
Shaun Higgins also played a strong game from half back after a season ruined by injury, while Jack Macrae and Lachie Hunter showed plenty of promise.
With the temperature still above 30C when the ball was bounced, the conditions didn’t suit the travelling Victorians and when West Coast had a major within the first minute it looked like it could be a long day for the Bulldogs.
Naitanui started in the ruck and tapped the ball straight to Scott Selwood, whose quick kick into the forward line was marked by an under-pressure Darling, who slotted the set shot.
But the Dogs started to halve the contest and run the ball across the length of Patersons to score the next two goals through youngster Hunter and boom recruit Stewart Crameri.
The Eagles were dominating the inside 50s without taking full toll, but still went into the first break with a 13-point advantage after kicking the last three goals of the quarter.
Spearhead Josh Kennedy got involved early in the second, taking a strong mark inside 50m but he never got to take his shot on goal after LeCras pushed Liam Picken over.
But the classy goalsneak made up for his momentary lapse minutes later, snappy an easy goal after Crameri had missed opportunities down the other end.
The Bulldogs had to work hard for every opportunity and a clever Luke Dahlhaus kick helped Hunter to his second goal.
It was all West Coast from there as they really started to dominate.
Already dominating the clearances, the Eagles’ midfield started to do damage on the scoreboard with Matt Priddis, Rosa, Selwood and Andrew Gaff all drifting forward and kicking goals as West Coast took a 39-point lead into the long break.
The Eagles missed a couple of golden opportunities to goal in the opening minutes of third with Sharrod Wellingham missing an easy set shot and Kennedy dropping a simple chest mark.
But LeCras soon stepped up again to stretch the lead out to 45 points.
Milestone man Murphy then stepped up to break their goal drought but West Coast weren’t about to let up with Shuey kicking a beautiful running goal before Kennedy bagged his first from a strong mark.
Shaun Higgins chipped in with a lovely goal off the back of a forward stoppage before Shuey pushed the margin back out to 51 points with a spectacular soccer out of the air from the top of the square.
Top Eagles draftee Dom Sheed started as the substitute in his debut and finally came into the game at the start of the last quarter with Shuey taken off as a precaution.
Scoring became much easier for the Dogs in the final term but still let themselves down with defensive errors thanks to the enormous pressure from the Eagles.
Murphy snapped his second goal to make the margin under 60 nine minutes in before consecutive goals to Wellingham and LeCras looked to have crushed the visitors’ spirit.
But three straight goals from the Dogs showed they were not done with yet but it couldn’t stop the irresistible Eagles force from completing an emphatic start to their season.
| GOALS - WEST COAST: LeCras 5; Darling 4; Cripps, Shuey, Kennedy 2; Priddis, Rosa, Selwood, Gaff, Masten. WESTERN BULLDOGS: Hunter, Higgins, Murphy, Crameri, Macrae 2; Boyd.|
BEST - WEST COAST:LeCras, Cox, Rosa, Mackenzie, Glass, Selwood. WESTERN BULLDOGS: Morris, Higgins, Murphy, Macrae, Hunter.