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West Coast wallop Essendon in AFL finals opener

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Roar Guru
5th September, 2019
46
1058 Reads

The West Coast Eagles have defeated the Essendon Bombers by 55 points at Optus Stadium in a Thursday night elimination final.

It really was West Coast from the word go tonight. The Bombers kept up for about 15 minutes, before the Eagles scored four of the last five goals in the opening term to take an early 21-point lead.

This was extended to five goals as West Coast continued their dominance at the start of the second quarter.

Essendon had a more positive patch closing in on half-time, but were unable to make any real inroads on the margin.

Despite a more competitive third term, in which the Bombers cleaned up their disposal, the Eagles still scored an extra goal over Essendon to extend the lead to 36-points.

Then the flood gates opened.

Liam Ryan’s third and Jamie Cripps’ fourth goal sealed a comprehensive victory in a three-goals-to-one final term.

With that, season 2019 is done for the Bombers, who showed very little in the sudden death match in the west.

Dyson Heppell, under an injury cloud, picked up 31 disposals, while young Andy McGrath had 30 disposals and a goal in a desperate and composed finals performance.

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Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti and Will Snelling scored two goals each, the latter – a mid-season draftee – was up and about in an otherwise dismal first half.

There were plenty of contributors for the Eagles; in his 200th AFL game, Luke Shuey picked up 34 disposals and eight clearances, while Andrew Gaff also had 34 disposals and Jack Redden 29.

Jamie Cripps and Josh Kennedy kicked four goals each and Liam Ryan kicked three.

There could be a few interesting calls at match review, with both Nic Naitanui and Zach Merrett reported by the umpire for an altercation in which Merrett pulled Naitanui’s hair and Naitanui sent Merrett into the fence.

Naitanui’s return was huge, playing an influential role in limited game time. Will he be available at selection next week? A fine is a more likely outcome here.

Jackson Nelson went off after a head knock in the final term and did not return to the game.

Mitch Brown sat off the second half for the Bombers with a calf injury.

Next up, West Coast will face the loser of tomorrow night’s qualifying final between the Geelong Cats and the Collingwood Magpies.

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It will be a big month of travel, but the Eagles are a force in this finals series. With the personnel back in the team, just a few things need to be tidied and West Coast could be in line for back-to-back premierships.

West Coast 17.14.116
Essendon 9.7.61