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Eagles serve Demons shattering loss in the west

LOSSES don’t come much more devastating than this one.

Melbourne, which dominated much of its preliminary final rematch with reigning premiers West Coast at Optus Stadium on Friday night, couldn’t maintain the rage in the final term as the Eagles overran the Demons in a 16-point win.

It’s been a scratchy flag defence, but Adam Simpson’s side made it three straight, despite what was a largely uninspiring display of football in a 13.7 (85) to 9.15 (69) victory.

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There’s a reason they’re the champs though, and that showed in the last quarter. West Coast raised its level, starting with a magnificent effort from the boundary from Luke Shuey that might have been touched on the goal-line.

Shuey from the boundary! #AFLEaglesDees pic.twitter.com/Anwn9swQNn

— AFL (@AFL) May 17, 2019

That wasn’t the moment of the match though. With about 10 minutes left in the game and scores level, Elliot Yeo started a passage of play in defence that saw him slide in and knock a loose ball to Mark Hutchings.

The Eagles were clinical in moving it down the field and a high ball to the hot spot was pounced on by Liam Ryan, who sat on Max Gawn’s head to put in what will likely be one of several nominations for Mark of the Year.

FLYIN’ RYAN!! #AFLEaglesDees pic.twitter.com/dcNF9yzUEz

— AFL (@AFL) May 17, 2019

He slotted the goal, and outstanding as he was in taking that grab, Yeo’s commitment was perhaps equally as important.

It was an attitude he showed all night in laying 16 tackles, while collecting 26 disposals and 18 contested possessions.

Then, with about five minutes left, Jamie Cripps took responsibility and slotted an outstanding goal on the run that all but sealed the result and perhaps finished the 3-6 Demons’ season.

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It was over though when Sam Frost fumbled on the goal-line, handing it on a platter for Jack Darling to soccer through his only goal of the night.

It was another quiet performance from the talented forward, but dual Coleman medallist Josh Kennedy helped keep his team in the contest earlier in the match, working hard without being stellar and booting four goals.

Down back, it came as no surprise that skipper Shannon Hurn was, as has been the case for a long time, a pillar down back.

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For the Demons, Gawn was outstanding as he sought to redeem himself from his disappointing display when his side last faced West Coast.

Tom McDonald missed numerous chances, finishing with 0.2 and sending another out on the full despite what was at times a dominant aerial display, while the enigmatic Christian Petracca didn’t convert as he would have liked either.

The oval ball strikes again!

Dees extend the lead to 12. #AFLEaglesDees pic.twitter.com/mFBl7cIZsR

— AFL (@AFL) May 17, 2019

Ultimately, the game should have been over at half-time.

Midfield duo Clayton Oliver and James Harmes were important but couldn’t do much as the Eagles booted six goals to one in the final term, showing class few other sides have.

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That brilliance was also on show earlier in the clash, from one man in particular.

It was somewhat surprising West Coast livewire Willie Rioli played his first game after a foot stress fracture since the Grand Final without having a run in the WAFL but he vindicated the faith shown by Adam Simpson with a brilliant goal dribbled through from long range.

Rioli hits back with a 50 meter dribbler! #AFLEaglesDees pic.twitter.com/iy0ruPs8ev

— AFL (@AFL) May 17, 2019

Rebounding Eagles backman Lewis Jetta could be in trouble for a tackle that left Tim Smith groggy, although the forward returned to the field.

MEDICAL ROOM
West Coast: Livewire Willie Rioli was on the bike at the quarter-time break with strapping on his left hamstring. However, he returned to the field within a few minutes. Daniel Venables lay motionless in the second term and was stretchered off, taking no further part in the game. Ruckman Tom Hickey was helped off minutes later after hurting his left ankle as his leg tangled up with Max Gawn, but he played out the second half.

Melbourne: Workhorse Alex Neal-Bullen looked dazed early in the third term after some friendly fire from Angus Brayshaw and was ruled out. There were worrying signs for forward Tim Smith after his head hit the surface in a tackle laid by Lewis Jetta. Christian Salem also suffered a head knock and he, Neal-Bullen and Smith were listed as suffering concussion by Simon Goodwin after the match.

NEXT UP
West Coast flies to South Australia for what looms as a challenging clash with Adelaide next Saturday, while Melbourne will hope Greater Western Sydney, which has lost 14 of its past 16 games at the MCG, doesn’t buck that trend the following afternoon.

Dees talkin’ team work.#AFLEaglesDees pic.twitter.com/ZA5qsys4va

— AFL (@AFL) May 17, 2019

WEST COAST 3.2 5.4 7.6 13.7 (85)
MELBOURNE 3.4 5.8 8.12 9.15 (69)

GOALS
West Coast: Kennedy 4, Rioli 2, Shuey 2, Cripps 2, Ryan, Darling, Sheed
Melbourne: Garlett 3, Petracca 2, Hunt 2, Jones, T.Smith

BEST
West Coast: Yeo, Hurn, Kennedy, Sheed, Shuey, Gaff
Melbourne: Gawn, Harmes, Hunt, Frost, Garlett, Petracca

INJURIES
West Coast: Venables (concussion), Hickey (ankle), Schofield (general soreness) replaced in selected side by Tom Hickey
Melbourne: Neal-Bullen (concussion), T.Smith (concussion), Salem (concussion)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Fisher, Margetts, Dalgleish

Official crowd: 51,162 at Optus Stadium

Source: AFL FOOTBALL NEWS