Eagles to build on defeat
Eric Mackenzie added Travis Cloke to a growing list of scalps on the weekend. Pic: Getty Images

Xavier Ellis says West Coast will build on the upside shown in their loss to Collingwood and are not far away from posting a run of wins.

The Eagles refused to accept Saturday's eight-point defeat to the Magpies at the MCG as an "honourable loss", but took heart from the progress shown in one of the games of the season.

They finished with 66 inside 50s - 15 more than Collingwood - and won almost every key statistical area, including contested possessions, clearances, marks and hit-outs.

Key trio Dean Cox, Shannon Hurn and Nic Naitanui also produced strong performances, while young recruit Elliot Yeo had an impact after being given more time in the midfield.

Ellis labelled the performance a "big step forward", with the former Hawk saying the players would take confidence from what they had done well.

"We used the ball pretty well for most of the night on Saturday," Ellis said.

"We've got a little bit of Hawthorn in our game plan, but kicking skills for every team is crucial … hopefully we can play finals.

"We need to get over the line in those close games, but we're going to keep improving throughout the year. I'm confident that we'll get a good run on at some stage."

The Eagles have an ideal window to make a finals run, facing just two sides currently in the top eight in Collingwood and Gold Coast during the final seven rounds.

However, Sunday night's clash with North Melbourne at Patersons Stadium is expected to go a long way to deciding the September fate of ninth-placed West Coast. The Kangaroos sit just one spot above them on the ladder in what shapes as a genuine eight-point game.

Ellis said he would welcome more time in the midfield after stringing together seven games this year, his best return since 2011.

The only hiccup has been a minor calf strain that sidelined the injury-prone recruit for two matches, but Ellis said he now had confidence in his body.

"I get a little bit of extra physio during the week and get down to the beach most mornings, but I don't really worry about it (my calf) too much," he said. "It's in the past now."

Ellis praised the form of defender Eric Mackenzie, saying the full-back was underrated in the wake of adding Travis Cloke to a growing list of scalps.

And he said he expected an improving Yeo to recover quickly from dental surgery to fix two front teeth broken in a sickening collision with Collingwood's Jarrod Witts.

The West Australian

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