West Coast youngster Jeremy McGovern has emerged as a hero after the Eagles narrowly avoided coughing up a game-winning lead for the second time this season in a three-point win over Gold Coast at Patersons Stadium this afternoon.
The Eagles went into the final quarter with a 36-point lead but could only watch as the young Suns turned on the afterburners and eradicated the deficit goal by goal.
When Tom Lynch kicked a goal from a terrific pack mark in the 19th minute the Suns had taken a one-point lead.
Somebody needed to step up for the home side and in the end that man was third-gamer Jeremy McGovern, who kicked an opportunistic goal to put the Eagles back in front, then went back to take two game-winning marks.
When the siren went the Eagles escaped with a 15.13 (103) to 15.10 (100) win.
Nic Naitanui was instrumental in the early stages of the game, lifting his workrate around the stoppages to the level he was playing at in 2012, with Josh Kennedy’s seven goals making him one of the best on ground as well.
Dion Prestia highlighted his talent with 38 disposals. Gary Ablett, Jaeger O’Meara and Harley Bennell were key to their side’s late run.
The Eagles’ midfield was dealt a blow in the hours leading up to the bounce after an ankle injury forced Luke Shuey to be withdrawn from the side late.
But despite the setback it was the midfield which gave the home side all the early running in the match.
Two goals to Brandon Matera were cancelled out by two to stand-in Eagles skipper Kennedy and with another two home goals coming directly from defensive turnovers, the Suns had a few early issues.
Fuelled also by a brilliant quarter from 100-gamer Naitanui, the Eagles went into the first break with a six-point lead and a14-8 advantage in clearances.
Kennedy’s hot streak in the first quarter continued in the second and within 15 minutes he had taken his goal tally to five and extended the Eagles’ lead to 27 points.
The Suns had been completely outgunned in the midfield battle, but finally began to found some rhythm in the minutes leading up to half-time.
Dual Brownlow medallist Ablett had struggled despite the lack of a hard tag and it was no coincidence the Suns’ momentum came on the back of him getting busy around the stoppages.
Late goals to Charlie Dixon and Lynch brought their deficit back to a manageable 21 points at the long break.
Kennedy kicked another two to start the third term, bringing his tally to seven, and Scott Lycett added another to bring up a 39-point lead, the biggest of the game to that point.
A three-goal run to the Suns through Dixon, Aaron Hall and Lynch threatened to make the game a contest again.
But when Sharrod Wellingham slotted a clever goal from the boundary minutes later it kick-started another run of Eagles goals and re-established their strong position.
The last quarter was a shootout as the Suns clawed back a 36-point deficit only to fall at the final hurdle.
|GOALS - WEST COAST: Kennedy 7; McGovern 3; Hutchings, LeCras, Cripps, Wellingham, Lycett. GOLD COAST: Dixon, Lynch 3; Matera, Rischitelli 2; Hall, Harbrow, Bennell, O’Meara, Prestia.|
BEST - WEST COAST: Naitanui, Kennedy, Hurn, McGovern, Wellingham, Hutchings. GOLD COAST: Prestia, Ablett, O’Meara, Swallow, Bennell, May.