Winter in the West

Winter has made its annual guest appearance in Perth.  Water sporadically fell from the sky, and seasoned observers confirmed this as a rare phenomenon called ‘rain’.  While the east coast has been deluged in the past 6 months, over here the ducks learn to swim by correspondence class.


And so to Subiaco for a late Sunday game under grey drizzly skies against a struggling Port Power.  In essence the game followed the same script as the previous home game against the Gold Coast Suns.


The Eagles got out to a healthy 5 goal lead in a largely uninspiring first half.  Port looked lost, and the Eagles goals came from perseverance and work rate more than creative play.  Like WW1 battles it was the ability to get bodies to the contest that triumphed over talent and strategy.


Just when things appeared to be going to script, the Power kicked 3 goals in the first 5 minutes of the second half (just as the Suns had).  The Avenging Eagle muttered “what did their coach give them at half time?”  Watching our backmen present easy goals through a variety of clangers, turnovers and miskicks I could only respond that it was more what the nobblers had administered to our lads during the break.


In fits and starts the Eagles second half lead oscillated between 2 and 6 goals, eventually settling on an unconvincing 22 points when the timekeepers finally invoked the mercy rule.  Rather than dwell on the game a few observations for future reference.


Cox and Natanui are the Eagles most powerful weapon.  The Eagles tend to struggle when a big-bodied warrior (Brogan today and Mumford when the Swans beat us) uses his ample frame as a barrier to the contest.  Brogan was quite heroic today, and the Eagles struggle when they cannot dominate the taps and clearances.


The slippery ball limited the effectiveness of the Eagles tall forwards.  Kennedy kicked 3 but was well held by Chaplin.  While the Eagles dominated the Inside 50’s (57 to 40) the ball spilled from Kennedy and Lynch’s hands, where recently they have mostly grabbed them.  Darling was subbed out of the game early in the second half even though he was contributing, more in the interests of balancing a top-heavy forward line in slippery conditions.


Three players stood out for the Eagles – all smalls – two are the most skilled players in the team (LeCras and Hurn) and the other the hardest working (Priddis).  How oppositions continue to let Hurn roam unguarded across half-back and the centre-line is beyond me.  He is the best kick the Eagles have had since Peter Matera, and I doubt there is a longer, more penetrating kick in the competition.  Three goals from a backman is remarkable – and both second half goals came when Port threatened most.  One an almost 70 metre bomb on the run in the third quarter, and the other an acute snap from half forward in the last quarter.


LeCras has improved week by week after early season injury interruption, and is now back to last year’s All Australian form.  He ran strongly through the midfield, and balanced that with 4 clever goals while roaming the packs on the forward line.


In truth, Port was the better team after half time with an effort that will have encouraged their coach and supporters.  In the second half they seemed to move the ball more quickly and fluently.  Cassisi, Pearce and Boak were all strong at the clearances and this put a lot of pressure on an inexperienced and undersized Eagles defence.


The Eagles next 2 games will be season defining – firstly against the Blues at Etihad, then the Cats at home after a restless week struggling with the all-conquering Bye’s.  Ethihad will be a blessing in a wet Melbourne winter for a team that has its strengths more in the talls, and that sees rain as often as Halley’s Comet.


Call me optimistic, but I am inclined to think that we may match up well against the Blues.  Our forwards could be a handful under the roof, and a dominant showing by Cox and Natanui could diminish the Blues’ advantage through their midfield.


A strong showing against quality opposition in Melbourne is probably more important than winning or losing.  Finishing fourth would offer a double chance, balanced against playing the Pies or Cats in Melbourne in the first week of the finals.  In many respects a knock-out home final against lesser opposition may be preferable.  (I think this may be called counting your chickens….)


A final thought – I’m with you Matt Zurbo – team jumpers matter!!  White is for Wimbeldon and ‘maggots with whistles’ (in a proper universe).  No wonder Port struggle to win away, and the Dockers get humiliated at the ‘G by the marshmallow Demons.  Foster Williams would be rolling in his grave at the sight of a Port Adelaide team in white and powder blue.


The marketing men have a lot to answer for.





  1. John Butler says

    PB, looking forward to seeing how the Blues handle the Eagles tall timber next weekend.

    We even promise to shut the roof if it rains.

  2. johnharms says


    I think the Eagles are very, very interesting at the moment.

    I rate Priddis, but I’m not sure you can build a mid-field around him. Embley’s odometer has been round the clock. Eagles fans will straighten me out but I’m not sure who is giong to get the ball in the first place.

    But then again, Big Nic roves his own contests.

    Hurn is a beauty, but the coaches of the better sides won’t allow him such latitude.

    Set up for a ripper contest v Geelong on a Friday night in a few weeks time.

  3. had the same thought myself about Port’s jumper. There was one club playing yesterday and one anonymous group of players. That takes half the fun out of the game. I wanted to beat Port Adelaide but instead I couldn’t recognise them and so didn’t get to enjoy their loss as much. I liked the line about WW1. I kept thinking the old Port would have beat us.

  4. Richard Naco says

    I think the WEagles are top 4 material, what with the Hawks’ many injuries and Buddy’s bad elbow.

    Saturday will determine whether that’s as an integral element of a seriously competitive Top 4, or just as unnecessary roadkill for the Big 3.

    (This being the answer to the same question that the Swans so emphatically provided on Sunday.)

  5. Rick Kane says

    Buddy’s elbow vs Buddy’s goal kicking and athletic skills across the ground … one blemish vs eleven games of skill and beauty … no contest. Make no mistake Richard, Buddy will be there to scare the bejesus out of 16 other sides for the rest of the season proper and the Finals, as he has done all year. Not with a wayward elbow but with strength and skill and dexterity and je ne sais quoi.

    Oh, and JTH, I agree about Priddis. Would be great, with a couple of others more fleet of foot to drive the midfield.

  6. Sorry not to share your optimism Peter. We will do well to get within 40 points of the Blues. Punching well out of our weight division at the moment.

    The Cats game will be one to watch.

  7. Dear Shaken,
    I was not aware that Brett Ratten wrote for the Almanac under a nom de plume?
    How did you manage to post such a prescient message?
    Consider yourself shaken and stirred.
    Avenging Eagle

  8. PeterB, I am honoured to offer an heart-felt apology.

    It seems we are the real deal.

    Either that, or Carlton are not.

    Either way, what a win.

    And …. what a mark!

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