Eagles a mess as Kangaroos snare shock win
The doomsday drums will be beating at West Coast after they suffered a shock 10-point AFL loss to last-placed North Melbourne at a wet and slippery Optus Stadium.
In a match that featured plenty of twists and turns, the Eagles produced a four-goal blitz early in the final quarter of Monday night's clash to take an 11-point lead. But the Kangaroos refused to wilt, with the visitors booting four of the final five goals of the match to secure the 10.10 (70) to 8.12 (60) win in front of a stunned crowd of 30,515.
The result has all but eliminated West Coast as a legitimate premiership contender, with a spot in the lower rungs of the top eight the best the Eagles (8-8) can hope for now. West Coast entered Monday night's match on the back of horror losses to the Bulldogs (55 points) and Sydney (92 points).
Eagles players vowed to bounce back against the Kangaroos, but West Coast are renowned for playing badly in wet conditions, and so it proved yet again against the wooden spoon favourites.
"It's obviously disappointing to lose," Eagles coach Adam Simpson said.
"We're low on confidence. My old coach (Denis Pagan used to say), 'Send you down Puckle Street and buy confidence'. It's pretty hard to do that."
Former Magpie Jaidyn Stephenson was instrumental for the Kangaroos with 38 disposals and a goal while Nick Larkey booted three goals. Forward Cameron Zurhaar was also influential - albeit wayward - with 2.6.
North Melbourne ruckman Todd Goldstein broke the all-time VFL/AFL hit-out record late in the first quarter and finished the match with 31 hit-outs from 12 disposals. It took his career hit-out tally to 8525, bettering the previous record of Aaron Sandilands (8502).
But even more important was his mark in the goal square in the dying minutes, with the subsequent goal giving North Melbourne enough breathing space to seal the win. West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui finished with 20 disposals, 36 hitouts, and 11 clearances in a fighting display.
Eagles forward Jamie Cripps is set to receive a fine for his jab to the chest of Tarryn Thomas in the second quarter that left the Kangaroos midfielder winded. Thomas was furious and was subsequently reported himself for wrestling Cripps in the aftermath.
The Kangaroos fought hard to ensure they trailed by just five points at quarter time, and West Coast's inability to convert their opportunities continued to haunt them in the second term.
The inside 50m count read 34-12 in favour of West Coast at halftime, but alarm bells started to ring for the Eagles as North Melbourne dominated the third term. Two goals to Larkey and a goal to Goldstein - following a 50m penalty for Tim Kelly being in the protected area - saw the Kangaroos head to the final break with a shock 11-point lead.
The Eagles looked like a dishevelled unit during the third term, with midfielder Elliot Yeo delivering Jeremy McGovern an angry spray at one point. The final term was a goal-fest as the conditions started to improve, and North Melbourne ended up winning the shootout.
"It's a significant night for our club," Kangaroos coach David Noble said.
"To be headed and then show some resilience and grit, it's a massive tick to the players for what we're trying to build together."