Eagles coach Simpson remains cautious despite hot start

By Justin Chadwick,

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    West Coast coach Adam Simpson isn’t getting carried away by his team’s hot form, saying it’s too early to know where they sit in the pecking order.

    The Eagles notched their third win on the trot with an 80-point demolition of Gold Coast at Optus Stadium on Saturday night.

    The victory followed on from impressive wins over Geelong and the Bulldogs, with West Coast’s only loss a fighting defeat to Sydney in round one.

    West Coast were widely predicted to struggle this season, but they are now on track for a finals berth.

    They have a chance to make it four straight wins when they take on struggling Carlton at the MCG on Saturday.

    West Coast will be 5-1 if they beat both Carlton and Fremantle in the next fortnight.

    But Simpson is urging caution.

    “I’m not sure where we are at, in terms of where we sit in the pecking order,” Simpson said.

    “We haven’t achieved anything yet.

    “There is yet to be a stabilising period of the season when you know the good teams from the poorer teams.

    “I think they are events at the moment, and at the moment we have had a few good events.

    “We’re still establishing our own brand and what we stand for.”

    Eagles forward Josh Kennedy booted 5.3 in his first match back from ankle surgery.

    But fellow veteran Mark LeCras could come under scrutiny for his heavy bump that concussed Suns forward Ben Ainsworth.

    Eagles midfielder Daniel Venables will undergo scans on an ankle injury.

    While West Coast are riding a wave of momentum, the same can’t be said for the travel-weary Suns, who have suffered back-to-back losses.

    Gold Coast have played interstate every week during the opening four rounds, with their home ground Metricon Stadium not available until round 11.

    The Suns were obliterated by West Coast’s run-and-stun approach on Saturday night, but Dew wasn’t making any excuses for the poor display.

    Dew will consider dropping some of his established players ahead of Sunday’s clash with Brisbane at the Gabba.

    Forgotten midfielder Michael Barlow is one of those players in the mix to return to the fold.

    Barlow, who broke his leg for a second time last season, has been surprisingly overlooked during the first four rounds, but he has been in strong form in the NEAFL.

    “Obviously he’s putting pressure on the people in the side, so once we review that game as well we’ll find out where he sits,” Dew said.

    Suns midfielder Aaron Hall, who was held to five disposals against Fremantle in round three, tallied 26 touches against the Eagles.

    Dew said Hall was good in parts, but poor in others.

    © AAP 2018
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    The Crowd Says (5)

    • April 15th 2018 @ 10:57am
      Wheely Bin Dan said | April 15th 2018 @ 10:57am | ! Report

      Losing Venables after Rioli is a bitter pill, hopefully not too bad. The upside is might get to see Ahchee or Ainsworth play? Good to hose down expectations on Eagles, keep the press off their backs a bit, if that’s possible. Next 5 games
      will show Eagles where they’re really at. (Carlton at MCG, Freo Derby, Port at Optus, Giants at Spo, Tigers at Optus)
      If Eagles get a good run from these games, the media floodgates will open and the press bandwagon will all jump on board as usual. So much for Robert Walls expert prediction of winning a wooden spoon. Some people need to get out of Vic. more often, or actually learn their craft and study their subjects more.

    • Roar Guru

      April 15th 2018 @ 11:44am
      gameofmarks said | April 15th 2018 @ 11:44am | ! Report

      To be fair to the knockers like Walls, the form of the WCE through the JLT justified the pessimism. They didn’t score more than 7 goals in either match and the game against Freo was woeful. It was hard to see that the return of Nic Nat was going to make that mush of a difference.

      I admit I was one WCE supporter who felt we would finish at the bottom of the ladder this year, not knowing:

      1. How the rookies would perform on the AFL stage;
      2. What effect Nic Nat would have;
      3. Especially with an young and inexperienced midfield.

      But, thank God, my pessimism was shown to be too premature and the rookies and Nic Nat have made a huge difference – so far!. Also, everyone in the side seems to have improved their game based upon their form in 2017.

      Guys like Jetta, who seems more comfortable play down back, and Sheed, who has stepped up as an inside midfielder who can go forward, are proving invaluable as transition players from defence to attack.

      Our midfield is still a WIP as the connection between Nic Nat/Lycette and the midfielders still has much room for improvement. When they get that right and the rucks start connecting with the midfield more often than not, I think the side can go to another level again.

      Simpson is right to hose down expectations and the next 5 games will give us a better idea where the WCE are at. I think we can maybe pencil in the game against Carlton as a win. Their backline doesn’t have the personnel to shut down our forwards.

      Looks like we will get to see Ainsworth this week against Carlton, if Venables doesn’t get up. But I am really looking forward to Brander make his debut. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

      • April 15th 2018 @ 2:43pm
        Lroy said | April 15th 2018 @ 2:43pm | ! Report

        Agree with a lot of that… I think Venables has been a revelation, only played a couple of games but he’s already slotted in like hes a 50 game player, very impressed with him so far. Likewise Rioli and Ryan have stepped in without missing a beat, both of them look like ready made AFL footballers.

        I was always optimistic our midfield would improve actually. Redden and Sheed are very good players, the later has had a bad run with injuries, both of them had to wait in the wings behind the two Brownlow winners last year. I think both of them will go well in 2018.

        Add our All Australian back-line, ruck division and the twin towers Darling and Kennedy, theres a lot to be excited about in Eagles land in 2018.

      • April 15th 2018 @ 4:47pm
        Wheely Bin Dan said | April 15th 2018 @ 4:47pm | ! Report

        I always thought we wouldn’t slide as much as most predicted! It just didn’t add up to me – given we still had most of our GF players, got rid of old or slow or underwhelming players, topped up with pace and tank, worked on skills, NN and JK were returning, added new midfield coaches etc – there was too much upside to down-slide! People just couldn’t see it and forget that we had bad consecutive years with injured key-backs out one year (had to play patch up team-hence weagles web and the discovery of Shepard). Then we had a year of key-rucks injured and had to play patch-up team again. Lecras was hobbled by a bad hip injury etc.

        All this has helped us develop strengths and evolve in other ways and when all the components were put back together again, finally to have the complete team again-plus-new sprinkles on top, it was plain as day that we were going to be at our best again…and dare I say challenging for finals AND…quite possiblly a tilt at the flag.

        The JLT didn’t concern me too much, because we played well against a near full Port team exposing our youth..the 2nd JLT was disappointing, but was experimental and misfired trying out new things, couldn’t read much into it.

        But having said that, a long way to go dancing with the footy gods and dodging the devil with injuries…(disclaimer-I don’t do blind faith and dumb loyalty btw)(but yeh a lot of hoping)

    • April 15th 2018 @ 6:32pm
      Doctor Rotcod said | April 15th 2018 @ 6:32pm | ! Report

      Ryan will be back mid-season,Naitanui will be up to full minutes soon,he makes the other so-called “beasts” look innocuous. Rioli pulls his head in and feeds the forwards the way he should,Yeo and Shuey are getting better in the absence of Mitchell and Priddis. Hurn leads all comers in marks.In fact four of the top twenty are Eagles
      If Cripps plays one quarter a week like his second yesterday,look out
      There’s a lot to like and look forward to.They could be 10 and 1 at the bye or 5 and six. I am anticipating some young players getting better as the season unfolds

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