West Coast have kept their finals hopes alive with a 12-point win over the Brisbane Lions.
West Coast have kept their faint finals hopes alive by holding on for a 12-point victory over the Brisbane Lions.
The Eagles won 11.10 (76) to 9.10 (64) in an uninspiring AFL clash in front of 13,610 fans at the Gabba on Saturday night.
The win moves West Coast within eight points of the top eight but Adam Simpson will know his men need to improve greatly if they are to qualify for the finals.
“I don’t think it was pretty, but we dug deep,” Simpson said.
“It’s a bit of a relief. (After a) six-day break, we made six changes, (with) probably our youngest side of the year, so I’m really pleased we got the job done.
“It was a pretty even game. It would have looked scrappy and we were a bit shaky there towards the end, but we found a way.”
The Lions led in most statistics but inaccurate kicking meant the Eagles held the upper hand.
Luke Shuey, Mark LeCras, Jeremy McGovern and Ashley Smith all kicked two goals for the Eagles, while Ashley McGrath and Josh Green managed two majors apiece for the Lions.
Shuey shone in the first term, nailing two superb kicks from just inside the right boundary – the second on the run – to give the Eagles a comfortable advantage at quarter-time.
The game looked like it could be over by the half time but the Eagles midfield’s tackling let them down, as they struggled to deal with the speed of their Brisbane counterparts.
Daniel Merrett and McGrath were both beneficiaries, taking marks in front of the sticks to bring the margin back to a goal at the long break.
Simpson admitted having stern words at half-time, especially to his under-performing rucks, where Nic Natanui again looked a shadow of his 2012 All-Australian form.
To their credit, the Eagles were much improved at stoppages in the second half, gaining 18 more hit-outs and 14 more clearances than their opponents.
“I wasn’t happy at half time (and) it started with our rucks,” Simpson said.
“We played a tall side so we needed an advantage in that area. If you can’t get that we’re behind.
“They stood up our rucks in the second half, gave our mids first possession and from there the ball came.”
A goal from Green levelled the scores in the third before two LeCras goals restored the West Coast advantage and from his point onwards the visitors did not look like losing.
The untidy nature of the match was epitomised in the third quarter as the normally reliable Eric Mackenzie kicked against his own goalpost when aiming a defensive cross-field pass to a teammate.