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Match Report: Eagles too strong

Travis King, AFL.com.au  July 30, 2017 7:00 PM

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The West Coast Eagles have defeated the Brisbane Lions by 68 points at Domain Stadium this afternoon. 

It didn't go all the home side's way against the plucky but wasteful young Lions, however a 17.11 (113) to 6.9 (45) victory has lifted the Eagles back into the top eight.

A five-goal-to-nil second quarter powered them to a match-defining 35-point break at half-time and, after the Lions showed some fight during a stalemate third term, it was party time in the final stanza.

Star spearhead Josh Kennedy opened the floodgates and, perhaps spurred on by a recent trend of final-quarter fadeouts and queries over their fitness, the Eagles put the foot down and booted five goals to one to blow out the final margin. 

Kennedy finished with six majors to stay in touch in the race for a historic third-straight Coleman Medal, only four behind leader Joe Daniher on 53 goals.

Partner in crime Jack Darling (two goals) was important early for the hosts, Mark LeCras (two) scrapped and chased like his career depended on it, while Dom Sheed (29 disposals, two) led a midfield brigade which had a rare convincing win in the clearance battle (50-38). 

Left to lead the ruck in Nathan Vardy's absence, veteran Drew Petrie and pinch-hitter Jeremy McGovern restricted Lions star Stefan Martin's influence, despite losing hit-outs (38-55).

Lions skipper Dayne Beams (41 possessions, nine clearances) couldn't have done anymore to lift his side in the absence of suspended star Dayne Zorko, while superboot Daniel Rich (32) fought through a tag from Mark Hutchings and youngster Alex Witherden (28) tried hard. 

But the Lions' skill execution and decision-making let them down badly in hostile territory.

The Eagles pounced on turnovers and fed a supply-starved forward line, which duly snapped an 11-game streak – the equal-longest in club history – without topping 100 points.

The undermanned Lions made a dream start through Ben Keays and the visitors were up for the fight early, heading into the first break down by only five points.

But when the Eagles stepped up a gear Chris Fagan's young outfit struggled to keep up.  

"I think we went back into our shells," Fagan said post-match.

"There were times, though, when we did use it well and we opened the game right up.

"We just didn't finish off, going inside 50 today.

"We want to stay brave with our ball movement."

West Coast piled on five unanswered goals in the second term, highlighted by LeCras' audacious effort from the pocket.

In the second term alone, West Coast dominated clearances (15-9), inside 50s (15-7) and disposals (101-89) and, pleasingly for coach Adam Simpson, kicked on to victory.

Lions first-gamer Sam Skinner – coming back from a ruptured ACL – finished with two goals, while fellow debutant Jacob Allison showed promise from 20 touches.

MEDICAL ROOM
West Coast: Luke Shuey needed treatment in the rooms for an ankle issue but is fine and the Eagles had no other injury concerns.
Brisbane Lions: Dayne Beams looked sore at times with his strapped shoulder but the Lions got through unscathed.

NEXT UP
The Eagles head back to the scene of last round's capitulation against Collingwood to face St Kilda in an 'eight-point' game at Etihad Stadium, while the Lions return home to host the resurgent Western Bulldogs at the Gabba.

WEST COAST            4.1    9.4    12.7    17.11 (113)                  
BRISBANE LIONS     3.2    3.5     5.8       6.9 (45)           

GOALS
West Coast: Kennedy 6, Darling 2, LeCras 2, Sheed 2, McGovern, Mitchell, Partington, Duggan, Yeo
Brisbane Lions: Skinner 2, Keays, Schache, Bastinac, Rockliff

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