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Round 5 – West Coast v Sydney: There’s been a long time between drinks!

 

 

Saturday 4 July 2020

1.45PM

Metricon Stadium

 

It’s been well documented everywhere already about the seismic shift that the whole world has gone through in the last few months thanks to the little prickly organism known as COVID-19.  The last time I put fingers to keyboard for an Almanac contribution, I was in the wonderful afterglow of the Women’s T20 World Cup win on March 8, when my brother, Dad and I, and about 86,000 of our ‘mates’ gathered at the MCG to cheer the Aussie girls to the most spectacular of wins over India.  The virus had already hit our shores, but what transpired over the next couple of weeks after that night would have seemed totally inconceivable at that stage. I remember feeling sheepish pulling out a tiny bottle of hand-sanitiser from my pocket a couple of times during the evening, but now, from a Melbourne postcode that has currently just started a second period of Stage 3 restrictions, that utopia of a huge crowd at the MCG seems like a completely different universe.

 

At the completion of Round 1 of the AFL season, my Eagles had defeated a disappointing Melbourne in Perth, even in the echoing emptiness of Optus Stadium, but no-one had any real certainty about what was to follow. Weeks later, when some of the restrictions had started to lift, the Gold Coast hub became the temporary home of the Eagles, Dockers, Crows and Power, and it was with mixed feelings that I settled in to watch the games on TV with empty stadiums the ‘new normal’.  Rounds 2, 3 and 4 were very challenging indeed, and even this totally rusted-on supporter started to have doubts about my ability to ‘keep the faith’.  In the end, it has been the desire to support the boys, who are making significant personal sacrifices being away from nearest and dearest for weeks and weeks, that has kept me watching and hoping with all fingers crossed that we could find our true Eagles form and stop the very un-Eagles-like losing streak from stretching to four games in a row.

 

The team selection for Round 5 saw some well-known names dropped and this caused a degree of media chatter, but this supporter believes that our coach knows best. As painful as it was to see Jetta and Hickey missing from the line-up, the inclusion of Waterman and Allen, and the return of McGovern after two weeks in the stands (one for suspension, and then a last-minute withdrawal for a suspect ankle), gave rise to some degree of hope that we might finally get to sing our song in the Gold Coast winter sun.

 

Sydney went into the game without any of their recognised ruckmen, including former Eagle Cal Sinclair, so there was a degree of optimism for me as the game began. But the Swans were first on the board through an uncharacteristic turnover from Shuey leading to a goal to Isaac Heeney. Our first major came at the 13 minute mark off the boot of Jake Waterman. With less than three minutes of the first quarter remaining, Allen got our second goal, and then an after-the-siren long bomb by Waterman put us only two points down. I had some degree of concern at the news that captain “Boots” Shuey would play no further part in the game due to a twinge in his hamstring.

 

The second quarter was pretty evenly matched on the stats sheet, but goals to Sheed and Darling saw us claw to a lead of five points at half-time. Josh Kennedy was also finally getting his hands on the ball, although his kicking was still a little off-target with three points from his three kicks. But the signs were cautiously positive at this point.  The absence of Shuey seemed to galvanise Naitanui and he was dominating in the clearances, like the NicNat of old.

 

In the first few minutes of the third quarter, we were wasteful in front of goal, with four consecutive points. Florent got the first goal of the term for the Swans, and the margin was just two points – I was a little nervous. Jack Darling snatched a quick reply to register his second goal of the game and then, in a very welcome return to form, Jamie Cripps goaled twice in two minutes. Defender Tom Barrass took an absolute hanger over Jordan Dawson in this quarter, and is a genuine contender for Mark of the Year. We went into the final quarter with a 21 point lead, having exceeded our total score in each of the last three matches with still one quarter to play.

 

We kicked away in the final quarter with two goals to Oscar Allen and one to Liam Ryan, whilst the Swans only managed one major off the boot of Papley. It was also great to see Elliot Yeo play himself back into form – he is an important part of our midfield but seems to have struggled in the last three weeks.

 

When the final siren went, we were victorious by 34 points, with Oscar Allen and Jake Waterman booting five goals between them. Finally, in their fourth week away from home, the boys belted out the club song, and with only one more game before they return home, there are small signs that our season is not completely lost.  There is good likelihood that West Coast will now have 6-8 weeks of consecutive home games at Optus Stadium, with a full Eagles crowd of 60,000 in attendance, so the doldrums of the last three weeks of losses might finally be able to be put in the past.

 

This blue and yellow supporter is now buoyed that despite all the challenges of 2020, the West Coast Eagles might be back in form. Go Eagles!

 

 

WEST COAST     3.1     5.4     8.9     11.11     (77)
SYDNEY             3.3     4.5     5.6     6.7     (43)

 

GOALS
West Coast:
 Allen 3, Cripps 2, Darling 2, Waterman 2, Sheed, Ryan
Sydney: McLean 2, Hewett, Heeney, Florent, Papley

 

BEST
West Coast:
 Yeo, Naitanui, Sheed, Allen, Waterman, Sheppard
Sydney: Kennedy, Florent, Parker, Lloyd, Mills 

 

 

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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Comments

  1. Good for the confidence, but otherwise pretty underwhelming. Midfield and ball movement still look glacially slow. Hopefully another couple of wins the next few weeks and then some real tests against the Cats and Pies back in Perth. Age looks to be catching up with us.

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