The hopes of West Coast AFL ruckman Nic Naitanui playing again this year have soared dramatically after backing up Tuesday’s training session with another workout on Thursday.
It was grand final for the ages and, while they were behind for the overwhelming majority of the game, the Eagles emerged from the chaos as deserved five-point winners.
Who got them over the line? Who almost gave the game away?
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Here’s every West Coast player’s performance from the big day rated.
Tom Barrass – 8
The youngster was a rock down back all day, keeping Mason Cox ineffective for much of the day and collecting 17 touches, ten marks and a game-high 13 one-percenters in a ripping effort.
Thomas Cole – 4
It was a nervy day for the young gun, with a simple dropped chest mark costing his team an early goal. The win spared him some blushes, but it still wasn’t an awe-inspiring performance.
Jamie Cripps – 6
Didn’t use the ball that well, but was hard at it and kicked an important goal. Decent return for a small forward.
Jack Darling – 7
Had a shocker of a first half – and bungled the easiest opportunity in AFL history to ice the game late – but in between those messes was solid. Seven marks (four contested), a goal and superb disposal efficiency in a game where every moment mattered.
Liam Duggan – 7
Didn’t call his name an awful lot, but his 16 touches came at 88 per cent effectiveness and he took seven marks. Can’t complain about that.
Shannon Hurn – 6.5
It was an interesting day for the skipper. Was guilty of some poor decision making in the first half – and had six outright clangers – but stood up in some key moments too and got better as the game wore on.
Mark Hutchings – 8.5
Did an absolute number on Steele Sidebottom, restricting the Brownlow medal runner-up to just 14 disposals while picking up 15 himself. Despite not looking great on the statsheet, his effort is proof that stats aren’t everything.
Lewis Jetta – 7
Was slick down back for much of the game, keeping a cool head and getting his side out of trouble when needed. Didn’t quite exorcise the ghosts of 2014, but he definitely deserved his medal.
Josh Kennedy – 8.5
Would love to have his two missed shots back, but the Eagles spearhead was a menace all afternoon. He clunked 11 marks, kicked three huge goals and just proved impossible to contain.
Mark LeCras – 5.5
Pretty quiet afternoon for the veteran forward. Contributed where he could with five tackles, but only had the ten touches and didn’t trouble the scorers.
Scott Lycett – 6.5
Got absolutely monstered in the hit-outs by Brodie Grundy, but his work around the ground was admirable. He missed a very easy set shot in the third quarter, but redeemed himself with a great pass to Darling later on to set up a major.
Chris Masten – 7
The oft-maligned Eagle probably didn’t do enough to win his fans over, but he did his job. 14 disposals, four marks and four rebound 50s enough to earn a medal.
Jeremy McGovern – 10
If he didn’t play, West Coast would’ve been smashed – simple as that. He wreaked havoc down back for West Coast with nine marks (virtually all of them interceptions), nine one-percenters and six rebound 50s. Saved the game with a super spoil in the fourth quarter, before setting up the winner with another great pick-off.
Jack Redden – 8.5
Great effort from the ex-Lion to collect 21 disposals at over 90 per cent effectiveness, as well as six marks. Flew under the radar a little, but he had an impact.
Willie Rioli – 7.5
Stemmed the bleeding for West Coast in the first quarter after accidentally kicking a goal and, while he wasn’t able to impact the scoreboard again, his forward pressure (seven tackles) was immense for most of the match.
Liam Ryan – 6.5
Flyin’ Liam Ryan set the tone with a huge hit on Brayden Maynard in the first quarter, but was hampered by a knee injury for the much of the game and only finished with ten disposals. Did take a great grab in the lead-up to Dom Sheed’s winner.
Will Schofield – 8
Very easy to look at his nine disposals and say he didn’t do much – but you’d be plain wrong. Schofield constantly harrassed Collingwood’s forwards and showed a very cool head under pressure down back. His five marks and 11 one-percenters were vital.
Dom Sheed – 9
Etched himself into Eagles folklore with one of the great set shots to win a grand final. Finished with 32 disposals, eight clearances, six inside 50s and six marks in a fantastic performance.
Luke Shuey – 10
A deserved Norm Smith medallist, although you could make a strong case for McGovern. How’s this for an effort; 34 disposals, 19 contested possessions, nine clearances, eight tackles, eight inside 50s and a goal. Wow.
Nathan Vardy – 7
Like his partner Lycett, was demolished by Grundy, but was serviceable in general play. Was involved in several important passages of play late in the game and actually laid six tackles – not bad for a big bloke.
Daniel Venables – 3
Can take credit for Cripps’ goal after a clever tap forward, but really struggled to get into the game otherwise. Just the four disposals for the 19-year-old in what will no doubt be a learning experience.
Elliot Yeo – 5.5
Well held by Levi Greenwood for most of the game and the frustration got to him. Only the 19 touches at barely over 50 per cent effectiveness and often looked just off the pace when the ball was at ground level.