West Coast’s finals hopes are dangling by a thread after copping a 38-point loss at the hands of North Melbourne in Perth on Sunday.
North Melbourne veteran Brent Harvey is facing suspension after whacking Scott Selwood in the face in the Kangaroos’ 38-point AFL win over West Coast at Patersons Stadium on Sunday night.
The Kangaroos led by just three points at quarter time, before booting seven of the next eight goals to secure the 12.10 (82) to 6.8 (44) win.
However, the victory could prove costly for North Melbourne, with forward Lindsay Thomas injuring his hamstring and Harvey likely to be scrutinised for his off-the-ball hit on Selwood.
Harvey forcefully struck Selwood on the chin with an open palm as the pair were jogging alongside each other early in the second quarter.
Selwood wasn’t seriously injured by the hit, but the high and forceful nature of it may be enough to land Harvey in strife.
Perth has proven to be a trouble minefield for Harvey, who copped a six-week suspension in 2012 after separate strikes on West Coast pair Daniel Kerr and Scott Selwood.
Harvey was held to just two possessions in the opening quarter, but tallied 10 alone in the second term before finishing the match with 27 disposals and a goal.
Levi Greenwood, Nick Dal Santo, Ryan Bastinac and Ben Cunnington were also crucial in the win, with the Kangaroos now well placed at 6-4 heading into Sunday’s match against the struggling Tigers.
In contrast, West Coast’s finals hopes are dangling by a thread.
Their 4-6 record doesn’t look totally disastrous on paper.
But with games against Hawthorn, Gold Coast, St Kilda, Fremantle and Sydney to come over the next five rounds, they could be 5-10 by the time they face Brisbane in round 17.
Eagles ruckman Nic Naitanui battled valiantly, Eric Mackenzie was a rock in defence and Matt Priddis was his usual prolific self.
But West Coast lacked imagination going forward, and their numerous unforced errors gave North Melbourne the easiest of avenues towards goal.
West Coast dominated most of the key stats in the opening term, but a host of elementary mistakes gave North Melbourne the early edge.
Harvey cut a frustrated figure after being held to just two possessions by Selwood in the opening quarter.
But after venting his frustrations by giving Selwood a whack, Harvey played an influential role in helping North Melbourne build a 20-point lead by half-time.
The margin would have been far greater had Levi Greenwood, Harvey and Robin Nahas nailed easy goals.
However, it mattered little as North Melbourne ran amok after the break to secure their second win in Perth this season.
West Coast’s lowest ever score at Subiaco Oval – 41 – looked set to be broken as the clock ticked down.
But Priddis’ goal after the final siren saved the Eagles from that embarrassment.
North Melbourne coach Brad Scott said Thomas had merely suffered cramp and should be fit to take on the Tigers.
He joked that Harvey’s hit on Scott Selwood might have a deeper meaning.
“He’s probably asking him to pass it on to Adam (Selwood) from the last time he terrorised him around Subiaco,” Scott said.
“Not all is fair in love and war, but I think there’s niggle with taggers.”
Eagles coach Adam Simpson was clearly gutted by his team’s woeful performance.
“It was probably a bit of a reality check for some of us. We took a step backwards today,” Simpson said.
“I’ve got the bigger picture in mind, but the effort wasn’t there.”