Finals Week 1 – West Coast Eagles v Essendon: September Viewing.

By Caspar McLeod.
West Coast Eagles Vs. Essendon.
Optus Stadium, 5/9/2019.


Stranger things have happened in footy than a team winning the flag from eighth. The Dogs did it from 7th. What about us from eighth? Why not us from eighth?


I’m nervous, but am also very excited. The Eagles look vulnerable after getting done by the Hawks. We pushed Collingwood all the way for the second time this year.


Team to raid the Eagles’ nest.


First quarter: We strike first blood through Andy McGrath. Kennedy responds with the first for the Eagles. Cripps misses, giving them a one point lead. We seem a little nervy in defense, but when we go forward and actually hit targets, we look good. Snelling kicks our second and grabs us a five point lead. Darling responds and the lead changes once more. Fantasia kicks a point to tie it up. Cripps misses just. He has another chance, which he nails. Eagles by seven. The weight of inside 50’s against us is starting to tell. Waterman kicks another for West Coast. Come on, Bombers! My plea isn’t answered. At least, not straight away as Rioli kicks their fourth in a row. Whenever they get the ball, they have all the time in the world, seemingly, and if they don’t, their foot skills take care of it. We rush it too much. That’s better, Bombers. Laverde snaps the West Coast run after captain Dyson hits him up beautifully. It’s amazing what happens when we don’t kick it to where McGovern is lurking. Darling is playing like he did in the third quarter of the grand final (last year’s, sadly for us not 2015’s Grand Final). Thankfully, he misses. Thankfully, Willie does too. Kennedy doesn’t. Eagles by 21. Hmm. Positives: When we move forward, we look good (when we hit targets). Negatives: We seem to forget that we need to avoid players wearing different jumpers than us. That’s ok. It’s only quarter time.


Oh, I should also mention Nic Nat upon his return: he is an absolute machine.


Second quarter: C’mon, Bombers! Again, my plea goes unheard as Kennedy waltzes in to extend the lead by 6. Tippa just misses from 50 out on the boundary. West Coast by 26. Ryan makes us pay for a turnover with another goal for the Eagles. He then gets another. Ok, this just isn’t very hospitable by the hosts. This is the equivalent of a hotel letting someone stay for a night if only for the price of being robbed of possessions. Snelling responds with his second major of the night. In round 14, Kennedy tore Hurley apart. Tonight he is doing likewise with Cale Hooker. Thankfully, he misses. Eagles by 33. Make that 39 from Cripps… you’re going to review that, umpires? That did look close to being touched… no…?… ok then. Rush point pushes the lead out to 40. Parish is not having a good night thus far. Hurley loses it as Hickey takes a mark on him. He kicked it like a ruckman. A behind results. Fantasia brings us back to within 35. Saad kicks a beauty. That helps. Back to 29. Hurley saves a certain goal. Five-goal lead. Which is how the quarter ends.


Nic Nat is dominating in the middle. McGovern is dominating in the backline. And yet, for as well as the Eagles are playing, we are only down by five goals. Stranger things have happened.


Third quarter: Not a good start. Kennedy kicks his fourth. Tippa pegs one back after Nic Nat loses his cool. On replay, Merrett grabbed his hair. So Nic Nat grabbed his throat and threw him into the fence. Saad kicks an inspirational trade-mark goal after receiving a handball from McKenna. Both players showed off their running speed. All of a sudden, it’s a four goal game. West Coast miss. Skill errors are still killing us but the Eagles aren’t putting us to the sword. Masten misses. Cripps kicks one… ARE YOU SURE YOU’RE NOT GOING FOR A SCORE REVIEW, UMPIRES? NO…?!?… YOU SURE?!… OK THEN! Point to the Eagles. 33 points is the margin. Point Bombers. Fantasia snaps and misses. Jake misses. Waterman doesn’t. That hurts. I don’t know why our skills are so poor. 6 goal lead at the end of the quarter.


Fourth quarter. Kennedy misses to the left. Drags the margin out to 37. Cripps shanks one. That was funny. Margin out to 38. Sheed hits the post. He then seals it. 13 minutes to go, 45 point margin. All about making it respectable now. Ryan doesn’t think so. He kicks another. Cripps gets another. Ok, OK we get it, West Coast. Jeez, you don’t have to be so mean about it. Parish just misses. Tippa kicks an absolute beauty. Margin is brought back to 50. Darling extends it again by 6. Tippa misses. And that is where the scoring finishes.


So, what to make of this season? The gap between our best and worst is too great. How can we smash Brisbane, push Collingwood twice, and have big wins in Adelaide and Perth, and yet get smashed by over 50+ points two or three times a year? I don’t get it.


BUT… should we move on from Woosha? Absolutely not. The one disappointing year under him was 2018. One could argue that that was the first he had without the cloud of the Saga hanging over the club. 2016, we had the suspensions, and yet he still manage to guide us to three wins. I will never forget being at the MCG in round 2 of that year, when we upset Melbourne. One footy expert in the record predicted us to lose by ten goals. We proved the doubters wrong on that glorious Melbourne afternoon. 2017, a year of so much change, and so much uncertainty, he took us to finals. We ran into a redhot Sydney outfit. We lost a fair bit of experience at the end of 2017. And honestly only half of 2018 was disappointing. Not even half! Just under. The first 8 weeks. And we still nearly made finals. This year we were gone, they said. GONE! And Woosha guided us to finals yet again. Pressure is on next year to win one, sure. But. If we get rid of Woosha after this season, I’ll be really disappointed.


The drought goes on another year. But. Richmond had a 16 year drought without winning a final with a coach under pressure heading into 2017. The rest is history. And they did it from 13th the year previous! There’s no reason why we can’t rebound and give the flag a serious shake next year. Stranger things have happened.


WEST COAST     6.4     10.8     13.11     17.14     (116)
ESSENDON         3.1     6.2     8.5     9.7     (61)


West Coast: Kennedy 4, Cripps 4, Ryan 3, Waterman 2, Darling 2, Rioli, Sheed
Essendon: Snelling 2, Saad 2, McDonald-Tipungwuti 2, McGrath, Laverde, Fantasia


West Coast: Shuey, Cripps, Yeo, Sheed, Rioli, Jetta, Kennedy
Essendon: Saad, Heppell, McGrath, Shiel, Francis


West Coast: Nelson (head knock)
Essendon: Brown (calf)


Reports: Zach Merrett reported for misconduct on Nic Naitanui, Nic Naitanui reported for rough conduct on Zach Merrett


Umpires: Fisher, Stevic, Stephens


Official crowd: 59,216 at Optus Stadium



Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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About Caspar McLeod

Third Culture Kid at Heart. Grew up in Asia, discovered footy at age 9. AFL has since been my burning passion. Ask me who were the winners all the grand finals between 1938 and last year's decider, and I'll be happy to tell you. I'm a footy nut with a passion for writing and acting. All though I love writing and acting, during the footy season, AFL is my true passion. Waiting ever so patiently for the day when Essendon Next win the flag.


  1. Colin Ritchie says

    It was hard to watch Casper! Unfortunately some of our players need to have a good hard look at themselves.

  2. If it is a choice between Worsfold and Lyon, please keep Worsfold. Footy fans do not deserve having Rossball inflicted on them again.

  3. Sadly for Tragic Don supporters like me, the West Coast were far too good all over the ground. The difference between the two teams was so visible as far as kicking goes. The Dons kicked the ball without precision or accuracy. Too many times they kicked high balls forward, to packs, where we were usually outnumbered.
    I reckon playing “injured” players like Cale Hooker and Michael Hurley was a big mistake.

  4. Preferring to see a ggd hard contest in finals, last night, fearing the worst for the Bombers, I decided to concentrate my viewing on the test cricket. By switching back now and again, it was soon apparent I had made the correct choice.

    With the Poms batting tonight I’ll probably spend more time watching the Geelong / Collingwood match than the cricket. Somehow, I suspect this will be a much closer match – but you never know. In the past I have often commented on the ‘Pies drab colours (black and white), however, to be fair, the Cats’ colours remind me of the old butchers’ aprons.

  5. Mark Duffett says

    Eagles’ nest is right – for some reason it hadn’t struck until cycling towards it yesterday evening that Optus Stadium, with its gently curving wood-toned external architectural flourishes, resembles nothing so much as a giant bird’s nest. And inside, you’re left in no doubt as to whose home this is. The sound generated by 50-odd thousand home fans is truly stupendous.

    Though the margin was a bit of a blowout in the end, this was a very enjoyable, fast, generally high skill level game for a neutral to watch, worthy of a final. The Eagles will take some stopping if they can bring that game across some thirty degrees of longitude.

  6. Eagles most impressive – Nicnac will be better for the run. After an entertaining game last night, I’m looking forward to the remaining finals. Hopefully the cricket will also be good.

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