Eagles unlikely path to finals
150-game Shannon Hurn leads West Coast off the ground after their late collapse cost them victory against Essendon. Pic: Getty Images

West Coast's finals hopes remain alive despite Saturday's heartbreaking loss to Essendon at Etihad Stadium, with an unlikely September berth still a realistic possibility.

A kind draw in the home-and-away season's final fortnight and upset losses for Collingwood and Adelaide from the weekend have left the door ajar.

The 12th-placed Eagles can still pinch eighth spot, provided they beat Melbourne at Patersons Stadium on Saturday night and knock off Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium in the final round.

But they still need other results to fall their way, with Saturday's clash between finals-bound North Melbourne and Adelaide at Blundstone Arena pivotal to their fate.

West Coast need the Kangaroos to beat the eighth-placed Crows, who have a similar percentage and an extra win under their belt.

Adelaide are West Coast's biggest rivals to fill the last finals spot.

Barring another dramatic upset in the final two rounds, that result and West Coast's already healthy percentage of 111.1 should be enough for them to leapfrog Adelaide, Richmond, Collingwood and Gold Coast.

A massive percentage-boosting win by the Crows over St Kilda in the final round would be the only other added risk.

Big wins by West Coast in either of their final two matches against struggling opposition would help the Eagles' cause.

The Tigers are in superb form, having won their past seven matches, but most likely need to topple Sydney at ANZ Stadium in round 23 to make the finals.

Collingwood, who suffered the perfect storm on Saturday night losing Scott Pendlebury (quad), Travis Cloke (ankle), Ben Reid (hamstring), Jamie Elliott (hamstring) and Dayne Beams (knee), appear out of the finals race after being thrashed by Brisbane at the MCG.

Essendon are in the box seat to finish seventh given they are already a win ahead of the chasing pack and play Gold Coast and Carlton in Melbourne to finish the regular season.

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley was left stunned with the events on Saturday, the last-minute withdrawal of Pendlebury forcing Tony Armstrong to butter up after running 14km while playing a full VFL game at Simonds Stadium earlier in the day. "I have been in the caper 20 years now, as a player and coach, and I can't remember a night like it," Buckley said.

"There are things outside of our control ... but you don't anticipate to get dealt a hand that we got dealt this evening.

"We were the ones that broke tonight physically.

"I reckon we held on mentally for a while, but by the end you are pushing the proverbial uphill with a pointy stick and it was tough going.

"It's a snapshot of our whole season because too much has been left to too few, too often, due to not having available personnel."

"I have been in the caper 20 years now … and I can't remember a night like it." " *Nathan Buckley *

with Australian Associated Press

The West Australian

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