Eagles survive Saint King’s masterclass
WEST Coast has overcome the early loss of star goalsneak Liam Ryan and a marking masterclass from Max King to post an eight-point AFL victory over St Kilda at Optus Stadium.
Ryan lasted just 18 minutes of Saturday’s match before pinging his left hamstring while celebrating a goal.
His absence was a big early blow, and King’s career-best six-goal haul kept the Saints in the match throughout the day.
King snared a whopping eight contested marks, taking Eagles defender Harry Edwards to the cleaners.
The Saints spearhead booted three goals alone in the final quarter to close the margin to seven points with two-and-a-half minutes remaining.
But grand final hero Dom Sheed again stepped up in the big moment, nailing a goal on the run from 40m to seal the 14.10 (94) to 13.8 (86) win in front of 43,657 fans.
Sheed finished with 32 disposals, seven clearances and two goals in a standout display, while Tim Kelly (26 disposals, four score assists, one goal) was influential when West Coast made their move in the second term.
The result improved West Coast’s record to 10-8, while St Kilda dropped to 8-10 and face a major battle to secure a finals berth.
After a tight opening quarter, Kelly ran rampant in the midfield in the second term and Darling and Kennedy cashed in up forward with two goals apiece.
King also produced a two-goal burst, but the weight of numbers was with West Coast, who booted 6.4 from 15 inside 50s to take a 28-point lead into the long break.
The third quarter was a see-sawing affair that featured a howling error from each side.
Eagles defender Josh Rotham snared a mark and then played on with a bounce, only to watch in horror as the ball bounced over his shoulder and into the path of Dan Butler for an easy goal.
St Kilda utility Ben Long was also looking for a hole to hide in when the ball spilled to him near the goalsquare and his shot from one metre out went across the face and hit the goal umpire.
The decision went to a video review, which on evidence suggested the ball would have cannoned into the post.
West Coast led by 25 points at the final change, but King turned the match on its head with three goals from powerful marks.
But the Saints couldn’t find the killer blow, with the Eagles finding the answer at the death to secure the win.
Eagles forward Jack Darling bounced back to form with three goals, Elliot Yeo was a strong body in the midfield with 24 disposals and nine clearances, while 150-game milestone man Jeremy McGovern was solid in defence and performed an important back-up role in the ruck.
(C) AAP 2021
WEST COAST 2.2 8.6 11.7 14.10 (94)
ST KILDA 2.1 4.2 7.6 13.8 (86)
Goals: West Coast: J Darling 3 J Kennedy 3 D Sheed 2 J Cripps J Waterman L Ryan N Naitanui T Kelly Z Langdon. St Kilda: M King 6 D Butler 2 J Billings J Sinclair P Hunter P Ryder T Membrey.
Umpires: Jeff Dalgleish, Leigh Fisher, Robert O’Gorman.
Venue: Optus Stadium.