West Coast needs to find a way to look beyond its growing injury list ahead of next weekend’s clash with Carlton.
After Saturday night’s shock home loss to Essendon, the Eagles fell two wins and percentage outside of the top four.
In-form midfielder Tim Kelly and young key position star Oscar Allen will miss the game against the Blues, that is likely to be moved to the SCG.
Kelly injured a medial ligament early in the second term against the Bombers and is expected to be sidelined for several weeks.
Allen was concussed after falling heavily in a marking contest and also missed the entire second half on Saturday.
Kelly joins the busy Eagles casualty ward. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
After Carlton, the Eagles have a bye before hosting Richmond and the Western Bulldogs.
The problem of having two players watching from the sidelines was compounded by them having three players returning from stints on the sidelines with their own injury concerns.
“(Elliot Yeo) was a bit rusty early. He worked into it,” coach Adam Simpson said.
“He’ll build his minutes, but we’ve got to manage him for the rest of the year.
“Having some players underdone doesn’t help when you have two injuries. Liam Ryan and Shannon Hurn, they’re both come back from four or five (weeks out).
“We couldn’t win a contest in front of the ball late. They played really well; they got us on the outside.
“The midfield depth, we didn’t have that in the last quarter and a bit, but you have to give a lot of credit to Essendon.”
The Bombers made the most of the Eagles’ poor fortune in the last quarter, kicking 3.7 to 1.0 to win by 16 points. They had 22 inside 50 entries in the last term to the Eagles’ six.
And so continued West Coast’s poor form in last quarters this season.
They have lost eight of 11 last quarters and are a combined -72 points for fourth terms in 2021. They are a combined -90 points for fourth terms in their five losses – to the Bulldogs, St Kilda, Geelong, Greater Western Sydney and the Bombers.
“The will to win was there for the most part, but not the whole part,” Simpson said.
“Just when the game’s up for grabs, it wasn’t a surprise with Essendon the way they’ve been playing they were going to have a swing, and then the game was on the line for the last 10 minutes and we didn’t do enough to get over the line, and they did.
“They got us on the outside in the last quarter. We couldn’t win a contest in front of the ball. We weren’t tough enough for long enough really.”
In that final term, Essendon had much more of the footy than West Coast did; 111 possessions to just 77. Zach Merrett (16 possessions), Dyson Heppell (10), Darcy Parish (nine), Andrew McGrath (eight) and Kyle Langford (eight) combined for 51 touches. For West Coast, Dom Sheed had 12 of his game-high 42 touches in the fourth quarter. But he had little help, Nic Naitanui and Jack Redden each having six disposals.
Kelly and Allen join Liam Duggan, Jeremy McGovern and Luke Shuey as significant absentees due to injury.
The Bombers stood up when it counted on Saturday night. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Bombers in full flight
It appears an obvious statement, but Essendon coach Ben Rutten claims the win over West Coast at Optus Stadium on Saturday night was a significant game for his improving team.
They became the only visiting team to win in Perth this season with a 16-point come-from-behind victory over the Eagles. Eight other teams have travelled to Optus Stadium this season and left empty-handed.
Also, while it was the Bombers’ fifth win of the season, it was the first against a side currently considered to be a genuine contender.
The others victories came against sides outside of the eight – St Kilda, Collingwood, Fremantle and North Melbourne.
And if midfielder Zach Merrett is looking for reasons to extend his contract with the Bombers, that win, their third on the trot, would have given him lots to think about.
The Bombers fought back from 29-points down to claim the win.
Rutten said the end results would not be swaying Merrett’s decision.
“I don’t think he’s really after wins or losses. I just really love the way he’s going about his footy at the moment,” he said.
“Everything I’m seeing and hearing from him, he’s committed. He’s invested in what we’re doing as a footy club, and he’s been a big part of our growth through this season.
“It’s really nice as a footy club that we’re starting to get some reward on the scoreboard, which can take some time. It’s been really pleasing.”
Merrett had 37 touches against the Eagles, while Darcy Parish continued his outstanding form, with another 36 possessions; his fourth consecutive game of 35 possessions or more.
The Bombers dominated the Eagles after halftime, kicking 7.8 to the Eagles 2.5 after halftime.
“It was a significant game for us,’ Rutten said.
“The boys showed huge spirit and character and it’s something we’re going to have to draw upon in our journey moving forward.
“Our guys got some real belief out of that and I think it was a really gutsy performance.
“I think the carrot is them just getting more and more evidence and building more examples of them being able to play their best footy in different environments, different occasions and under duress.”
The Bombers left Optus Stadium unsure of where they would meet Richmond in Round 12.
They are due to have a bye in Round 13 and are scheduled to return to the MCG for rounds 14 and 15 against Hawthorn and Melbourne, respectively.
They will miss Peter Wright for at least the game against the Tigers and probably more. Wright was a late withdrawal on Saturday night due to a calf injury,
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