AFL’s Eagles must address lack of consistency


No discussion of the prospects of any AFL team beyond Victoria is thorough if it doesn’t pay attention to the travel factor – especially the two teams out of Western Australia, whose fortnightly plane trips of usually four hours or more over a period of time become a sizeable challenge.

That’s something rarely given enough consideration by “eastern staters”, as people from Perth are inclined to refer to anyone living the other side of the Nullarbor Plain.

Few teams in domestic sporting competitions around the world have to make as long a trips as regularly as do West Coast and Fremantle.

It makes the Eagles’ sustained success, seven grand final appearances and four AFL premierships over 35 years, a pretty remarkable effort.

But it’s taken a toll on the length of the careers of some of the club’s greatest players over that time.

It’s taken a toll on some Eagles’ line-ups which were good enough but unable to win flags.

And, at times like these, you can’t help but also wonder if it continues to take a toll on the psyche of an entire club.

While Fremantle is in the same boat, it has only once – in 2013 – threatened in premiership terms.

West Coast’s record in recent times makes it a particularly pertinent case study.

Adam Simpson, in his eighth season as coach of the Eagles, has an impressive record: 111 wins, 60 losses, one draw and a winning percentage of nearly 65; West Coast playing finals in each of the last six seasons.

The Eagles have won more than 77 per cent of home games at Subiaco and then Optus Stadium under his watch.

Their away strike rate of just over 50 per cent, given the extent of the travel imposition, is at worst fair.

But even winning a premiership in 2018, a year in which West Coast managed to win eight of 11 games outside Western Australia, doesn’t seem to have made the Eagles any more adept at handling “the road”.

Indeed, their record away from home since the premiership has got steadily worse.

That 8-3 road record (a 72 per cent strike rate) from 2018 became 6-5 (54 per cent) in 2019.

Last year when, thanks to COVID, West Coast played eight of its 10 games away from Perth against an opponent also from a state different to the game venue, it still went only 50-50. And this season, the record is just one victory in five attempts.

At the same time, West Coast has become harder to beat at home.

Since the 2018 premiership, the Eagles have won 22 of 27 games at Optus Stadium.

So, in five seasons leading up to the 2018 premiership under Simpson, West Coast went at a winning percentage of 65 per cent for home games and 53 per cent away.

Since the flag, it’s been 81 per cent at home and 46 per cent away.

Given that the Eagles have had arguably just as strong a list since the premiership year, I suspect those numbers suggest that, increasingly for West Coast, it’s about mindset.

This is a side which knows its capabilities, and has experienced the ultimate playing to its peak.

It knows it has a substantial advantage playing an interstate team at home and is likely to win far more of those games.

Counting the away clash with Fremantle, that’s a dozen games in which the Eagles will almost inevitably start a warm favourite.

Win even three-quarters of them, and they know they need just four wins from the other 10 away to be reasonably confident of playing finals.

It doesn’t necessarily mean they can pick and choose when to have a serious crack, but it does mean losing the most difficult of those away assignments, like Geelong at Geelong, for example, isn’t really the end of the world.

And that’s certainly what it looked like in Round 6 at the Cattery, when the Eagles were belted by 97 points, conceding a run of 13 consecutive Geelong goals, and 19 of 20 after a decent first quarter.

It’s a theory which also sits comfortably with West Coast’s repeated fade-outs this season; the Eagles conceding 71 points more in final terms than they’ve scored and their over-reliance on an admittedly very efficient forward set-up.

The latter factor certainly was pivotal to the Eagles’ five-goal lead on Essendon early last Saturday night, despite the Bombers having their share of the football as well.

It was when the Dons’ harder edge began to be converted on the scoreboard West Coast found itself in big trouble.

And when that starts happening at home as well as away, that’s cause for major concern.

The Eagles found an extra gear when they won that famous 2018 grand final – in fact right through that finals series, winning the hard ball categories they had usually been beaten throughout that season.

That level of hardness hasn’t been found consistently since.

That deficiency is telling against the very best sides in the AFL, among which on the score of talent alone West Coast should be perceived.

And while it remains absent, maybe too many Eagles luxuriating in what remains a substantial edge in their own backyard, things aren’t likely to improve when they step on to another aeroplane.

This story Rohan Connolly: AFL’s West Coast Eagles must address lack of consistency
first appeared on The Canberra Times.



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Star Tiger out as Eagles, Giants and Roos recall leaders


Dion Prestia has been withdrawn from the Richmond team to take on West Coast on Sunday night.

The midfielder injured his hamstring and was subbed out of the Dreamtime game, but was originally named in the team on Thursday.

In better news for the Tigers, Kane Lambert returns from injury.

West Coast gets back Liam Duggan, Oscar Allen and Josh Kennedy, but the injuries continue to mount with Brad Sheppard and Bailey Williams going out.

GWS has named star forward Toby Greene, while North Melbourne gets back Robbie Tarrant and Jaidyn Stephenson.

See the teams below.

North Melbourne

IN: Jaidyn Stephenson, Robbie Tarrant, Tristan Xerri

OUT: Charlie Lazzaro, Curtis Taylor, Connor Menadue, Tom Campbell

GWS Giants

IN: Toby Greene, Adam Kennedy, Matt de Boer, Jake Stein

OUT: Zach Sproule, Matt Buntine, Callum Brown, Xavier O’Halloran, Jake Riccardi

West Coast

IN: Liam Duggan, Oscar Allen, Josh Kennedy

OUT: Brad Sheppard, Xavier O’Neill, Jake Waterman, Bailey Williams

Richmond

IN: Kane Lambert

OUT: Dion Prestia, Riley Collier-Dawkins





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Great mates to debut, gun Eagles trio back as Optus hosts rare double-header


Vice-captain Josh Kennedy is back and will lead the team in Luke Shuey’s absence, while running half-back Liam Duggan and versatile tall Oscar Allen are confirmed starters, coach Adam Simpson said.

Simpson also confirmed a two-year coaching extension to 2024 that ended fanciful talk he could replace Nathan Buckley at Collingwood.

The influx of senior players could extend further when the club refines its team on Friday afternoon, with wingman Jarrod Brander and back-ruckman Nathan Vardy named on an extended eight-man interchange that also includes last week’s medical sub Jamaine Jones, Luke Edwards, forwards Jake Waterman and Zac Langdon, midfielder Xavier O’Neill and defender Luke Foley.

All-Australian defender Brad Sheppard was ruled out due to AFL concussion protocols and emerging ruck-forward Bailey Williams was not considered because of a hamstring strain.

Richmond added Kane Lambert, tall defender Ben Miller, Will Martyn, and Hugo Ralphsmith to its squad for the 5.20pm clash while youngster Riley Collier-Dawkins was omitted but Dion Prestia named, despite being subbed out for Daniel Rioli in last Saturday’s 39-point win with hamstring tightness.

At Fremantle the mood was buoyant ahead of the clash despite the absence of captain Nat Fyfe (shoulder), Brennan Cox (hamstring) and Griffin Logue (concussion).

Out-of-favour midfielder Connor Blakely has been dropped and could struggle to play again in purple, while Nathan Wilson was suspended for one match for an unsavoury hit to the groin of young Dog Cody Weightman last Sunday.

Matt Rowell after suffering a partial PCL tear at Optus Stadium in round one.Credit:Getty Images

Not only will great mates Western and Walker debut but hopes will be high for Pearce, who appears ready for his 55th AFL game .

Walker, 18, had a mixed start to the season that saw him demoted to Peel’s reserves after a serious foot injury and then a concussion setback. He has shown pace and skill in his four WAFL games for the Thunder off half back and his imposing frame should hold well at AFL level.

Walker admitted he thought his good mate Western was going to get a call-up.

“Joel and I have been playing footy since about year 6. It’s been a while playing together and to debut on the same day, it’s really cool,” he said.

“I’m just so keen and I’m shaking right now.”

Fremantle v Gold Coast
(Optus Stadium, Saturday 2.15pm)

FREMANTLE
B: R Conca A Pearce T Duman
HB: J Aish L Ryan D Tucker
C: B Acres D Mundy A Brayshaw
HF: T Colyer R Lobb M Crowden
F: L Schultz J Treacy L Henry
FOLL: S Darcy A Cerra M Walters
I/C: B Bewley C Serong J Western B Walker
EMG: C Blakely T Watson L Meek S Giro
IN: R Conca A Pearce B Bewley J Western B Walker
OUT: C Blakely (omitted) N Wilson (suspension) G Logue B Cox N Fyfe (all injured) T Watson (medical sub)

GOLD COAST
B: W Powell S Collins S Lemmens
HB: J Lukosius C Ballard J Bowes
C: B Ellis M Rowell H Greenwood
HF: D Swallow C Burgess N Holman
F: I Rankine B King A Sexton
FOLL: Z Smith L Weller T Miller
I/C: N Anderson S Flanders O Markov M Rosas
EMG: J Corbett J Farrar C Graham J Sharp
IN: J Bowes M Rowell
OUT: J Farrar R Atkins (both omitted) J Corbett (medical-sub)

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Roos win by 20 points but Eagles can hold their heads high


The Yass Roos held on by 20 points this weekend to defeat the Murrumbateman Eagles and put another win on the board in the Battle of the Barton.

The day began with a moving indigenous smoke ceremony courtesy of local Ngunnawal man, Scott Bell.

The first quarter started, and although it was relatively scrappy, the Roos dominated much of the play and kept the ball in their half for the most part.

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The Eagles converted well from their limited opportunities and headed into the first break, lucky to be only 17 points down.

The second quarter told a similar tale, with the Roos controlling most of the contest. Still, the Eagles were again proving efficient inside 50 and keeping the Roos within arm’s reach.

The half time scoreline was Yass 8.9-57 to Murrumbateman 5.2-32.

Two yellow cards early in the third quarter to Jacob Negri and Toby Serafin was the horror start for the Roos, and the Eagles capitalised on their complacency and threatened to cut further into Yass’ lead.

The three-quarter time siren went and the game looked set to boil over, as the physicality of the third term saw tempers flare and players from both sides had to be dragged into their respective huddles.

In the fourth quarter, to both sides credit, the focus was back on the football, and the Roos held on to be 20-point victors.

The final scores were Yass Roos 9.18-72 defeating Murrumbateman Eagles 8.4-52.

For the Roos, Fraser Cloney kicked four majors (and a few too many behinds), whilst Samuel Williams kicked three.

For the Eagles, Kristopher Milne kicked three, and Brent Ford kicked two.

Yass Coach Dominic Johns hinted that the Roos performance wasn’t quite at the standard he’s come to expect, despite being pleased with the final result.

“It was a tough-fought game. It was always going to be tough against Murrumbateman.”

“It was good to get up with the win, but I thought we could’ve played a little bit better, but we still got the win, and that’s what’s important,” he said.

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Carlton Blues vs West Coast Eagles Tips, Odds and Teams – AFL 2021


SCG will play host to Sunday”s
Round 12 AFL game between Carlton Blues and
West Coast Eagles. The game kicks off at 3:20 pm with West Coast Eagles heading into the game as favourites with the bookmakers. Continue reading for our in-depth preview of the Carlton Blues vs.
West Coast Eagles
game and give you our free tips and bets.

When: Sunday June 6, 2021 at 3:20 pm

Where: SCG

Bet 💰: Bet On This Match HERE

Carlton Blues vs West Coast Eagles Odds

Carlton Blues vs West Coast Eagles Preview

At the time of writing this we still don’t know where this game will be played but it’s looking likely that this game will be shifted to Sydney.

Both teams are struggling at the moment with the Blues unable to beat teams above them and West Coast just in a form slump.

This is a real toss of the coin match, I’m not sure which team this favours if it’s at the SCG but given the Blues played their last week I’ll lean towards them.

First Goal Scorer

First Goal Scorer:

Harry McKay at $7.50.



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West Coast Eagles failed finals-like test against Essendon, says Dom Sheed


Dom Sheed has lamented West Coast’s inability to handle Essendon’s “finals-like pressure” and failure to maintain their momentum when on top as the keys to their first loss at Optus Stadium this season.

Fresh from a career-high and ground-record 43 disposals, Sheed said Essendon’s manic pressure contributed to the Eagles surrendering their 29-point advantage on the way to a 16-point defeat on Saturday night.

“We were five goals up with a couple of minutes to go in the second term and we blew it,” he said.

It was West Coast’s first regular season loss at Burswood since 2019 and left them two games and substantial percentage out of the top four. Sheed said the loss of Tim Kelly to a knee injury did not excuse West Coast’s midfield division being beaten but admitted the Essendon pressure proved difficult to counter.

“It felt like a finals game with their pressure,” Sheed said.

“That is what we wanted to bring to the game but they were better than us at it.

“When they put on heat like that when you have the footy, it is very hard to find a composed possession. Credit to them, they deserved the win because they were tougher for longer and brought good heat.”

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Speaking on ABC radio after the match, Sheed said West Coast had been able to score heavily this season when armed with strong momentum but several times had yielded that advantage to their opponents.

West Coast have sustained losses despite leads over Western Bulldogs (seven points), St Kilda (20), Greater Western Sydney (five) and now Essendon (29).

“When it is going our way we seem to capitalise and kick goals and hurt them on the scoreboard but when momentum is not going our way, we seem to be giving up far too many easy goals,” Sheed said.

“It is something we need to address and find ways to shut the game down when momentum is not going our way.

“We missed TK but that is not an excuse. We just got beaten as a midfield group today and it is just not good enough.”

Dom Sheed looks to get a kick away.
Camera IconDom Sheed looks to get a kick away. Credit: Daniel Carson/AFL Photos

Meanwhile, Essendon forward Alec Waterman squared his personal ledger with brother Jake after being on the winning side during their second on-field meeting.

Waterman kicked the sealer on his return to Perth during a handy contribution in the Essendon forward line.

A nervous earlier shot was off-line but travelled nearly 70m into the crowd.

His first match against his younger brother came early in 2019 when he was making a comeback for Claremont after a long battle with chronic fatigue that cost him his place on the West Coast list after being a father-son draft selection.

He took on Jake who was playing for West Coast’s WAFL team in a game the Eagles won.

Alec received a knee in the back that broke several ribs, punctured his lung and forced him to miss two months of football.

But he produced a superb 2020 season for Claremont that prompted Essendon to sign him during this year’s supplementary selection period.

Jake Waterman was West Coast’s medical sub on Saturday but had an immediate impact when he came onto the ground after Kelly was injured at the opening bounce of the second quarter.

Waterman ran from the interchange bench directly into the forward pocket where he collected a loose ball and kicked accurately from about 25m.

He added West Coast’s only goal in the last quarter during a lively effort in attack.

The loss of the versatile Oscar Allen (concussion) means that Jake Waterman is likely to return to the starting 22 against Carlton next week.

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Eagles star could face sanction from AFL after crude hand gesture


West Coast forward Liam Ryan may face a financial sanction from the AFL after flipping the bird late in his side’s loss to Essendon on Saturday night.

With just under one minute remaining in the game, Ryan was involved in a heavy one-on-one contest with Mason Redman as the Bombers defender spoiled the ball away from Ryan and over the boundary line.

Redman then gave Ryan, who was still on the ground, a light knee to the ribs, prompting the West Coast goalkicker to get to his feet and briefly remonstrate with Redman.

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The players were then separated before Ryan raised his middle finger in action that was seen on the live broadcast.

It’s unclear who Ryan was directing his gesture to at the time.

Speaking on Fox Footy’s Saturday Stretch, Herald Sun reporter Jon Ralph said Ryan could cop a “little fine” from the AFL.

“He just flipped the bird in extreme frustration there.

“I’m not suggesting it’s a shocking act.

“Maybe the AFL considers a $1000 fine for him … It’s not a hanging offence.”

Ralph pointed out that Richmond superstar Dustin Martin copped a $2500 fine from the AFL for directing abusive gestures towards Giants opponents, including the middle finger salute, during a game in 2019.

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AFL live ScoreCentre: Magpies vs Cats, Lions vs Giants, Saints vs Kangaroos, Suns vs Hawks, Eagles vs Bombers, live scores, stats and results



Collingwood take on Geelong in front of no crowds at the MCG, to kick-off a jam-packed Saturday of footy.

Follow the live scores, stats and results below.

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Newcastle Knights vs Manly Sea Eagles Tips, Odds and Teams – NRL 2021


McDonald Jones Stadium will play host to Sunday”s
Round 12 NRL game between Newcastle Knights and
Manly Sea Eagles. The game kicks off at 4:05 pm with Manly Sea Eagles heading into the game as favourites with the bookmakers. Continue reading for our in-depth preview of the Newcastle Knights vs.
Manly Sea Eagles
game and give you our free tips and bets.

When: Sunday May 30, 2021 at 4:05 pm

Where: McDonald Jones Stadium

Bet 💰: Bet On This Match HERE

Newcastle Knights vs Manly Sea Eagles Odds

Newcastle Knights vs Manly Sea Eagles Preview

Newcastle Knights will host the Manly Sea Eagles at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday and it looks like the home side might be in for a tough time.

The Knights are in horrid form at the moment while Manly have won their last 3 games.

Not sure Manly should be so short in the market but I can’t tip the Knights with the way they’ve been playing.

Newcastle Knights vs Manly Sea Eagles Tip



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On the day Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles mourn Bob Fulton’s death, one his greatest signings, Josh Schuster, stars in 28-6 win over Parramatta Eels


Manly huddle in memory of the late great Bob Fulton.Credit:NRL Photos

Now, they look like a team that could even challenge for the top four after inflicting on the Eels just their second loss of the season, leaving unbeaten Penrith firming for the minor premiership.

Schuster has been playing in the unfamiliar role of back row, but was switched to his preferred position of five-eighth after Kieran Foran’s injury. Foran will do well to get his spot back at this rate.

Just like almost every other match since Magic Round, there was a fair share of controversy with Parramatta’s State of Origin hopeful Reagan Campbell-Gillard, teammate Waqa Blake and Manly’s Karl Lawton all sin-binned for high shots.

Tom Trbojevic is tackled by Waqa Blake of the Eels at Bankwest Stadium.

Tom Trbojevic is tackled by Waqa Blake of the Eels at Bankwest Stadium.Credit:Getty

Jake Trbojevic was also sat down for 10 minutes for a professional foul as five players – including Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans and Tof Sipley – finished the match on report alongside the high tackle culprits.

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Tom Trbojevic not only turned in another all-star display, he also found time to give an almighty bake to teammate Taniela Paseka and have the final say with a try of his own in the last minute. Fulton would have approved.

And he certainly would have been chuffed with Manly’s effort to score seconds before half-time when Brad Parker scooped up a Reuben Garrick kick to score a miraculous try while Lawton was in the sin bin.

It gave the Sea Eagles a 16-6 buffer, one they never really looked like surrendering against a frustrated Eels side that lacked the poise in attack they have showed through the first 10 rounds. They couldn’t muster a point after the break.

Garrick bagged a try of his own when Schuster weaved another spell on the left before Campbell-Gillard, Trbojevic and Blake were sin-binned for indiscretions.

MANLY-WARRINGAH SEA EAGLES 28 (Brad Parker 2, Karl Lawton, Reuben Garrick, Tom Trbojevic tries; Garrick 4 goals) defeated PARRAMATTA EELS 6 (Clint Gutherson try; Mitchell Moses goal) at Bankwest Stadium. Referee: Adam Gee. Crowd: 24,411.

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