High praise for Eagles after mauling
Chris Masten and Jack Darling celebrate at the MCG yesterday. Picture: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Melbourne coach Paul Roos declared West Coast genuine top-four contenders after they thrashed the Demons by 93 points at the MCG yesterday.

But Eagles coach Adam Simpson has warned against getting carried away with their dominant start to the year, saying top spot and a huge percentage were not a real indication of their standing in the competition.

West Coast also suffered an injury blow, with Shannon Hurn sustaining medial ligament damage in a knee which is likely to sideline him for three weeks.

But the Eagles are riding high on confidence and Roos said it was clear their 13th-placed finish last year wouldn't be repeated.

"Last year the Eagles had a lot of injuries. A lot of people tipped them to win the premiership last year. They've got those players back so they're a top four to six side," Roos said.

"If you look at their pedigree and where they've come from, they've still got that balance of experience, their younger guys have certainly got better.

"The way they've opened up the season, their first two games have been really good."

West Coast set up their win with a dominant first term in which they kicked six goals to nil and didn't lose a centre-bounce hit-out or clearance.

Nic Naitanui set the scene, Josh Kennedy kicked four goals and Luke Shuey continued his re-emergence from injury with 30 possessions and two goals.

The Eagles replaced Fremantle on top of the ladder after increasing their percentage to 259.6.

Crushing victories over the Western Bulldogs (65 points) and Melbourne have shown how dominant they can be and given them an ideal launching pad for the year.

The Eagles have already been installed as $1.03 favourites for Saturday night's match against St Kilda at Patersons Stadium. But with their first three opponents finishing lower than them on the ladder last year, Simpson said it was important to maintain perspective.

"We're pleased with the result. But it's a long year and we haven't really been thrown into the deep end and tested just yet. I'm sure that's coming," he said.

"I don't want to sound disres-pectful to Melbourne or the Bulldogs, but there's still things that we review that aren't where we want to be.

"But maybe that's striving for perfection. It's not like we can't play any better."

Simpson warned against underrating St Kilda, pointing out that they were also undefeated and playing well.

A frustrated Roos said the thrashing highlighted the problems within his team, namely the lack of available forwards.

But he said basic errors were unacceptable and had given him a greater insight into his players.

Roos said he was building a dossier on his players so he could understand what they were capable of.

"At some point, you've got to draw a line in the sand and you've got to say these are the guys we're going to pick," he said.

"You can't become a good team unless you have those real non-negotiables."

"Last year the Eagles had a lot of injuries … they're a top four to six side.""Melbourne coach *Paul Roos *


The West Australian

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