West Coast coach Adam Simpson revealed he had to motivate his troops ahead of their 52-point thumping of Gold Coast after they missed the AFL finals.
Whatever West Coast coach Adam Simpson said at halftime initially appeared to prove the difference after an explosive third quarter set up a 52-point AFL win over the Gold Coast Suns at Metricon Stadium on Sunday.
However, Simpson revealed his match eve address had made the biggest impact on a devastated Eagles side trying to get their head around missing out on the AFL finals.
West Coast kicked a remarkable 11 goals to the Suns’ two in the third term to ensure they ended their year with a thumping 23.13 (151) to 15.9 (99) win.
Captain Josh Kennedy kicked eight majors – but was also placed on report for striking David Swallow in the second term – as the Eagles finished the year ninth with an 11-11 record.
Simpson was pleased with the way his side responded after being forced to motivate them ahead of the dead rubber when the finals door was slammed shut on them on Saturday.
Richmond’s shock three-point win over Sydney on Saturday sewed up the last top eight berth available, shattering an Eagles side that had travelled to Queensland hoping to make the finals with a victory on the Gold Coast.
“We probably wasted a bit of energy watching that (Richmond’s win),” Simpson said.
“We got the players in after that game to refocus on the job ahead.
“It was a test of our maturity…it would have been a real disappointment if we didn’t switch on today.”
Still Simpson admitted the victory was “bittersweet”.
“A little bit but you get what you deserve,” he said.
“I don’t think we have beaten anyone in the final top eight.
“We have seen improvement but we are not satisfied.
“I feel we are evolving, I feel we are better placed (than last year) but we just haven’t been good enough.”
However, first year coach Simpson could see a bright future as they began life without veteran Dean Cox and former skipper Darren Glass.
Ruckmen Nic Naitanui and Scott Lycett dominated on Sunday in the absence of injured 290-game Cox.
And West Coast’s defence shut down the Suns – despite the best efforts of youngster Jack Martin (four goals) – to again show it can stand up without retired skipper Glass.
West Coast have this year also unearthed swingman Jeremy McGovern while ex-Brisbane Lion Elliot Yeo and former Hawk Xavier Ellis have slotted in seamlessly.
“There’s a crop there we think are going to be 200-game, 10-year players and they will grow together – that is what we will take into our next phase,” said Simpson.
Gold Coast led 6.3 (39) to 6.2 (38) at the first interval and only trailed by two at the main break – 9.8 (62) to 9.6 (60) – before the visitors found another gear.