West Coast’s clash with Gold Coast on Sunday will be a dead rubber after Richmond’s win over Sydney ended the Eagles’ finals hopes.
Richmond put the final nail in the coffin, but West Coast know they only have themselves to blame for falling short of an AFL finals berth this year.
The Tigers’ shock three-point win over Sydney on Saturday ended the Eagles’ hopes of sneaking into eighth spot, even if they beat Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium on Sunday.
It also means the decorated career of West Coast ruckman Dean Cox is over, with the 290-game veteran rested against the Suns after pulling up sore from last week’s win over Melbourne.
This year will be remembered by rookie Eagles coach Adam Simpson as a season of “what ifs”.
In round six against Carlton, West Coast led by 24 points midway through the final quarter before slumping to a three-point loss.
Then against Essendon in round 21, West Coast blew a 34-point lead on the way to yet another three-point defeat.
Inaccurate kicking also cost the Eagles wins against Port Adelaide and Fremantle.
Although West Coast will be forced to watch on in September, it hasn’t totally been a wasted year.
In the form of Jeremy McGovern, the Eagles have uncovered a player who has the potential to become one of the league’s best swingmen.
Former Brisbane Lion Elliot Yeo and ex-Hawthorn Hawk Xavier Ellis slotted in seamlessly, while life after Darren Glass isn’t to be feared after West Coast’s defence shone despite the retirement of their skipper.
Simpson said Sunday’s game against Gold Coast was still important despite his team being out of finals contention.
“It’s my role to make sure they’re up and ready to go,” Simpson said.
“We’re building some momentum for next year.
“They (the Suns) really challenged us over here last time we played. We won by three points at the death.
“They’ll be really keen to finish off their season as well as they possibly can.”
Gold Coast are in a similar boat to West Coast – left to rue a season of missed opportunities.
The Suns were being talked up as a possible top-four fancy after they made a 7-2 start to the year.
But the wobbles set in once their draw got tough, and the wheels fell off completely once star midfielder Gary Ablett suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in round 16.
The Suns have lost five of their six games since Ablett went down, with their only win during that period coming against lowly St Kilda.
Code-hopper Karmichael Hunt won’t appear for the Suns again after announcing his retirement from the AFL.