West Coast will face Collingwood at the MCG next weekend in a game todecide premiership favouritism after seeing off a gallant Carlton in the WA club’s 600th match.
Last night’s clash marked aninglorious return to Patersons Stadium for former Eagles premiership hero Chris Judd, who looked to be carrying an injury as he was well beaten by Eagle Scott Selwood.
Judd’s frustration boiled over in the final term when he conceded a dubious 50m penalty at a crucial time.
Led by ruckman Nic Naitanui, who exerted a towering influence on the match, and steadied by young forward Jack Darling who kicked two clutch last-quarter goals, after his team had squandered opportunities, West Coast ran out winners 10.19 (79) to 10.9 (69).
They face further injury worries ahead of their clash with the Magpies, with defender Will Schofield pulling a hamstring in last night’s match, Luke Shuey finishing the game nursing sore ribs and Sam Butler a late withdrawal with hamstring tightness.
Eagles coach John Worsfold ruled out Schofield but was confident that Shuey would recover.
“I think Shuey’s was just a stinger — I don’t know what they are. So he will be fine. Schofield would, I expect, miss the next game at least with a hamstring,” he said.
Worsfold hosed down the significance of the clash with the Magpies on Saturday week but acknowledged that the Eagles would learn plenty from a game at the MCG against a genuine contender.
Aiming to win their 17th game in succession at Patersons Stadium and reclaim top spot on the ladder, West Coast appeared to have total control of last night’s match halfway through the second quarter when they had eased out to a 26-point lead, at one point taking nine shots on goal in a row.
But the Blues kicked the last two goals of the first half to breathe life into the contest.
When the Blues kicked four goals to one in the third term, they went to the final change nursing a three-point lead.
Darling kicked two goals in the first 10 minutes of the last quarter to crack the game open.
Carlton skipper Judd struggled against Selwood and was held to just 12 touches for the first time in four years. Blues coach Brett Ratten said Judd was battling injury and looking forward to a 15-day break before their next game. He would not reveal the nature of the injury.
“I thought Scott Selwood beat Chris on the night,” Ratten said.
“He beat him at the ball and away from the ball.”
Ratten was not impressed with the soft 50m penalty paid against Judd late in the final quarter that gifted a goal to Eagles ruckman Dean Cox.
“They only cost you goals, those little incidental free kicks,” he said.
“What can you say. We come here knowing that is the lay of the land.”