|Brownlow Medal||3 Luke Shuey (WCE)||2 Matt Crouch (ADEL)||1 Sam Mitchell (WCE)|
It's hard to imagine a match decided by 29 points being nerve-wracking but that was the scenario at the very last AFL match to be played at Subiaco on Sunday. The season's final match saw West Coast needing to beat top side Adelaide in order to make the eight, and for the margin to be no fewer than 21 points (give or take a point depending on the scores) for the Eagles to sneak into the eight.
The Eagles led for most of the match, but the margin bounced above and below the required figure at various points in the match, causing the heart rates of not just West Coast fans to quicken, but also supporters of Melbourne, with the Demons the team that would miss out if the Eagles got through. In the end, West Coast did indeed win by enough to propel it into the eight, but it was no certainty until the last couple of minutes of the match.
A mark and goal to Eddie Betts gave the Crows the lead after just two minutes, but errors and strong defence from both sides saw another 10 minutes pass before either side scored. Nathan Vardy broke the drought, kicking the Eagles' first goal and a follow-up major from Jack Redden saw the home side in front midway through the term. A behind and then a goal to Jamie Cripps extended the lead to 13 points early in time on, and a second major to Cripps had the Eagles ahead by an even three goals at quarter time.
It was dour again at the start of the second term, a behind to Crow Richard Douglas the only score in the first 10 minutes, but a goal to Mitch McGovern broke the stalemate. Cripps answered for the Eagles but then two goals in a row from the Crows had them back within two points early in time on. But the home side surged late, kicking three of the last four goals of the quarter and the margin was back out to 17 points at the half.
Honours were even in the early stages of the third quarter but four goals in a row to the home side - two to Mark LeCras and one each to Josh Kennedy and Drew Petrie - saw the margin blow out to six goals and the Eagles looked not only like winning, but also winning by enough to ensure a place in the eight. But a late goal to Betts saw the margin back to 31 points at the final change and had Eagles' fans squirming in their Subiaco seats.
The final term started with another long goalless period, the drought broken by a goal to Crow Mitch McGovern, cutting the margin to 25 points, simultaneously raising Demon hopes and sending West Coast fans into heart attack territory. Kennedy then fluffed two chances to settle the nerves, and a long running goal to Paul Seedsman midway through the term had the margin at exactly 21 points, the Eagles' and Demons' finals hopes on a knife's edge.
West Coast wasted more chances, with Tom Barrass and Kennedy again missing, and when Charlie Cameron swooped on the ball and goaled on the cusp of time on, Melbourne replaced the Eagles on the 'live ladder'. But Lewis Jetta, playing his best game since joining the Eagles from Sydney, put his team back in the eight with a goal at the 22-minute mark and his teammate Jack Darling made sure of a place on the finals with a courageous goal-square mark and major two minutes later.
The Eagles finished 29 points clear a result which gave them 12 wins and a percentage of 105.71, just ahead of Melbourne's 105.22, the 0.49% gap the narrowest in V/AFL history between two sides looking to qualify for finals.
Ex-Hawk Sam Mitchell was outstanding for the Eagles, with 34 possessions and seven marks, and the retiring champion's career will continue for at least one more match. For the Crows, the Crouch brothers Matt (45 touches, seven tackles) and Brad (38 disposals, nine tackles) continued their fine form.
A place in the eight assured, West Coast will take on Port Adelaide in an Elimination Final at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday week, a ground where the Eagles have had recent success. The Crows will also play at the Adelaide Oval, a day earlier, in a Qualifying Final against GWS. Adelaide will start favourites, playing at home and having finished on top, but it heads into the match having lost two in a row, not an ideal lead-in.
West Coast: Cripps 3; Hutchings, LeCras 2; Vardy, Redden, Gaff, Shuey, Kennedy, Petrie, Jetta, Darling
Adelaide: Betts, McGovern 2; Milera, Smith, Jenkins, M.Crouch, Seedsman, Cameron
BEST - AFL.COM.AU
West Coast: Mitchell, Gaff, Hurn, Shuey, Priddis, Cripps
Adelaide: M. Crouch, B. Crouch, Sloane, Laird, Jacobs, Hartigan
BEST - WATODAY.COM.AU
West Coast: Mitchell, Yeo, McGovern, Gaff, Shuey, Cripps
Adelaide: Crouch B, Crouch M, Sloane, Jacobs, Hartigan, Seedsman
West Coast: Nil
UMPIRES: D.Margetts, N.Williamson, S.Ryan
TELEVISION BROADCAST: Fox Footy
COMMENTATORS: Anthony Hudson, Gerard Healy, Matthew Pavlich, David King
|West Coast||Match Stats||Career|
|37||Barrass, Tom||7||6||7||14||0||1||0||1||0||0||21y 323d||30||0|
|15||Cripps, Jamie||11||2||4||15||3||2||0||3||1||0||25y 126d||117||142|
|27||Darling, Jack||9||7||4||13||1||0||1||2||0||1||25y 75d||149||267|
|14||Duggan, Liam||11||7||7||18||0||0||0||1||0||0||20y 259d||44||7|
|3||Gaff, Andrew||18||5||14||32||1||0||0||3||3||2||25y 72d||154||55|
|25||Hurn, Shannon||17||11||7||24||0||0||0||0||0||1||29y 357d||221||49|
|34||Hutchings, Mark||7||1||6||13||2||0||0||1||0||2||26y 94d||73||36|
|23||Jetta, Lewis||15||6||1||16||1||0||0||2||2||1||28y 115d||152||114|
|17||Kennedy, Josh||9||4||3||12||1||4||0||1||1||1||30y 2d||205||515|
|2||LeCras, Mark||8||5||7||15||2||0||0||3||1||0||30y 362d||194||407|
|16||Mackenzie, Eric||7||3||2||9||0||0||0||3||1||0||29y 100d||145||7|
|20||McGovern, Jeremy||10||10||7||17||0||0||0||1||0||0||25y 134d||77||29|
|1||Mitchell, Sam||14||7||20||34||0||0||0||4||1||1||34y 319d||327||69|
|24||Partington, Luke||3||4||5||8||0||0||0||2||0||1||20y 175d||5||3|
|21||Petrie, Drew||7||2||3||10||1||0||10||6||5||0||34y 316d||330||441|
|11||Priddis, Matt||9||1||11||20||0||0||0||8||0||0||32y 159d||238||72|
|8||Redden, Jack||13||5||8||21||1||0||0||3||1||0||26y 261d||161||61|
|4||Sheed, Dom||12||5||13||25||0||1||0||1||2||0||22y 139d||58||23|
|5||Sheppard, Brad||7||3||10||17||0||0||0||5||1||0||26y 96d||129||17|
|13||Shuey, Luke||17||5||11||28||1||0||0||5||1||1||27y 86d||155||119|
|19||Vardy, Nathan||5||3||2||7||1||0||31||3||2||0||26y 63d||45||34|
|6||Yeo, Elliot||15||6||9||24||0||1||0||1||1||1||23y 330d||105||45|
|21||Atkins, Rory||6||5||15||21||0||0||0||1||0||2||23y 46d||54||26|
|18||Betts, Eddie||8||4||4||12||2||2||0||4||1||1||30y 274d||274||528|
|16||Brown, Luke||5||3||4||9||0||0||0||0||0||0||24y 339d||112||11|
|23||Cameron, Charlie||5||1||5||10||1||0||0||4||2||2||23y 53d||70||81|
|2||Crouch, Brad||13||5||29||42||0||0||0||6||0||1||23y 225d||58||19|
|44||Crouch, Matt||19||2||26||45||1||1||0||7||0||0||22y 128d||69||16|
|26||Douglas, Richard||8||3||14||22||0||1||0||2||1||2||30y 202d||217||146|
|15||Hartigan, Kyle||7||5||5||12||0||0||0||1||1||2||25y 293d||66||1|
|24||Jacobs, Sam||10||3||7||17||0||0||51||2||0||2||29y 139d||171||44|
|4||Jenkins, Josh||4||4||7||11||1||0||3||1||0||1||28y 200d||111||223|
|42||Keath, Alex||5||4||2||7||0||0||0||0||0||3||25y 219d||6||0|
|8||Kelly, Jake||10||5||6||16||0||0||0||3||1||0||22y 218d||31||0|
|3||Knight, Riley||4||4||7||11||0||1||0||4||0||0||22y 153d||28||20|
|29||Laird, Rory||13||4||13||26||0||0||0||4||0||0||23y 241d||98||9|
|6||Lever, Jake||8||7||9||17||0||0||0||1||1||1||21y 175d||53||3|
|27||Lynch, Tom||8||4||4||12||0||1||0||1||0||1||26y 346d||103||153|
|14||Mackay, David||8||1||9||17||0||1||0||2||0||3||29y 33d||182||55|
|41||McGovern, Mitch||5||5||1||6||2||0||0||4||0||0||22y 320d||35||51|
|30||Milera, Wayne||12||5||4||16||1||0||0||2||0||1||19y 347d||24||13|
|11||Seedsman, Paul||12||3||13||25||1||2||0||3||1||0||25y 217d||66||28|
|9||Sloane, Rory||18||6||20||38||0||0||0||9||4||1||27y 163d||163||104|
|33||Smith, Brodie||14||4||9||23||1||0||0||1||0||0||25y 225d||142||46|