Eagles put hapless Suns to the AFL sword
West Coast’s ruthlessness could pay handsome dividends by season’s end after the Eagles gave their percentage an almighty boost with a 126-point AFL trouncing of winless Gold Coast at Patersons Stadium on Saturday.
The Eagles never looked back after booting eight goals to two in the opening term, with ruckman Nic Naitanui unleashing some exquisite ruck work in the 25.16 (166) to 5.10 (40) win in front of 34,592 fans.
Although the four points were important for the Eagles, the boost to their percentage could prove equally vital as the race for top-four spots heats up.
The Eagles started the round with a percentage of 131.65, but their big win over the Suns boosted it to 143.12 to go with their 10-3 win-loss record.
Collingwood, Essendon, Sydney, Adelaide and Hawthorn are other teams competing for top-four spots, and all boast healthy percentages, although not quite as good as the Eagles.
West Coast coach John Worsfold played down the focus on percentage, claiming it hadn’t been a talking point among the team.
“We didn’t talk about percentage. We talked about playing the style of footy we need to continually play to be a good team,” Worsfold said.
“At the end of the year … percentage may be a factor in a couple of positions on the ladder. But we’ll just continue to play good footy and let that take care of itself.”
Naitanui set up numerous goals with his pinpoint ruck taps, while midfielders Luke Shuey (32 disposals, three goals), Andrew Gaff, Matt Priddis, Chris Masten and Daniel Kerr were prolific.
Eagles’ forward Quinten Lynch finished with four goals and Jack Darling booted three, while debutant Murray Newman chipped in with two goals after being introduced into the fray midway through the third quarter.
Danny Stanley toiled hard for Gold Coast along with Gary Ablett and Harley Bennell, but the Suns struggled to keep pace with their more-fancied rivals as the club slumped to its 13th loss of the season and 20th in a row.
Suns’ coach Guy McKenna conceded his charges were “shattered” by the result, and struggled to come up with any positives.
“They understand they’re fighting up against the odds,” McKenna said.
“It’s certainly disappointing to lose like we did today and get beaten around the contested situation.
“But in the back of their mind, they understand when that effort and the discipline to stick to the structures isn’t there, you’re going to get beaten.
“They just need to physically grow up and mentally grow up as well.”
Suns’ defender Jarrod Harbrow was a late withdrawal due to gastro, but even his presence wouldn’t have been able to stop the tide.
West Coast won the inside-50m count 60-30, and booted 15 of the last 16 goals of the match to extend the final margin beyond 100 points.© AAP 2013