West Coast’s finals hopes are still very much alive after a 66-point mauling of Melbourne in Dean Cox’s final game at Patersons Stadium tonight.
The Eagles were ruthless from the opening bounce, running harder, using the ball better and capitalising on every Demons mistake to run out 18.11 (119) to 8.5 (53) winners in front of 35,083 fans.
The result will leave Adam Simpson’s men just one game out of the eight going into the final round of the home and away season.
Should they beat Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium next week, their percentage of 114.7 leaves them poised to claim the final spot in the top eight should Collingwood or Richmond lose.
Mark LeCras was outstanding for the home side, finishing with four goals from 23 disposals, while Chris Masten (32 touches) and Andrew Gaff (29) were also amongst the best.
The Demons had few winners outside of Bernie Vince (34 disposals) and Nathan Jones (29).
The game went largely as expected in the first quarter, with the only real surprise being Cox starting on the bench rather than in the ruck.
The retiring Eagles hero ran onto the field to rapturous applause after two minutes, with his side already six point ahead thanks to a classy set shot conversion from LeCras.
Jack Darling averages three goals against the Demons and had already reached that tally by the end of the first quarter in what was looming as a big night for the young forward.
He was joined on the score sheet by Jamie Cripps and Josh Kennedy as the Eagles established a 30-point lead by the first break.
Statistically the Demons were relatively on par with their opponents and even lead the contested possessions tally 41-26 in the first quarter but their inability to use the ball with any purpose killed them.
Cam Pederson kicked the opening behind of the second term in a promising sign for the travelling side, but another two goals to the Eagles within five minutes re-established the predetermined order of things.
West Coast’s dominance continued across the ground, but the accuracy of the first quarter had deserted them to a degree in the second.
For a tall target, Jack Fitzpatrick was struggling to deal with the ball in the air, but his uncanny finishing ability once it hit the ground started to cause the Eagles some problems on the rare occasions the ball travelled inside the Demons’ forward 50.
Fitzpatrick kicked the final two goals of the first half, but the Eagles’ lead remained 38 points at the long break.
West Coast’s forwards were lining up in front of goals in the third quarter as the margin grew from a strong lead to an absolute blowout.
With Masten, Gaff and Luke Shuey finding space wherever they looked and the Demons continuing to turn the ball over, it was virtually party time for the home side.
The Demons managed two late goals through Rohan Bail and Jeremy Howe, but would trail by 71 points at the final break.
Melbourne would go on to win the final quarter three goals to two as the Eagles went about getting the ball into Cox’s hands as much as possible in his final home game.
|GOALS - WEST COAST: LeCras, Kennedy 4; Darling 3; Hill 2; Cripps, Lycett, Shuey, McGinnity, Gaff|
MELBOURNE: Fitzpatrick 2; Vince, Bail, Howe, Pederson, Dawes, Tyson.