Flyin’ Ryan takes to the skies as the Eagles make it 7 wins on the bounce dominating the Hawks on Sunday night.
With Liam Ryan leaping into the Perth night sky and Josh Kennedy slotting a hattrick of goals, the Eagles comfortably outclassed the Hawks (12.9) 81 to (7.7) 49 on Sunday night at the Optus Stadium.
Showing themselves as a worthy competitor for the premiership title, the Eagles cemented themselves in fourth place in the league with the win, with only 4 points separating them from Port Adelaide at the top of the Premiership.Embed from Getty Images
With stand out performances from Nic Naitanui, imperious at the ruck contest, and Liam Ryan who was simply magnificent under the highball, it’s an exciting time to be an Eagles fan!
But the Eagles command of the high ball in front of their own goal was the deciding factor in this match.
Solid defending from Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barras, helped the Eagles keep a clean sheet for the entirety of the first quarter. Between them, the pair took 17 marks in total, snaffling up any Hawks attempts to get in front of goal.
Meanwhile, Josh Kennedy opened the scoring for the Eagles, replicating Jack Newnes’ controversial winner for Carlton the week before.
Flyin’ Ryan then took to the skies, comfortably beating 4 Hawks defenders to a looping up-and-under from Andrew Gaff. Ryan then converted the mark getting his first of the night.
The Eagles started to ramp up pressure on the Hawks, with 24-year old debutant Nic Reid winning a freekick from a tackle on Jarman Impey, getting his first AFL assist, combining with Liam Ryan who once again pulled off a superb aerial catch.
But the Hawks came back into the game in the second quarter, with Liam Shiels collecting the footy from a ball-up the Eagles failed to deal with. Shiels then converted from a tight angle.
The Hawks caught the Eagles napping shortly afterward, pulling off an excellent bit of build-up play, initiated by the Irish-man Conor Glass, lacing the ball up-field to Chad Wingard who was able to pinpoint Shaun Burgoyne, ten meters out from the goal.
Following the game Coach, Adam Simpson said “the Hawks at stages really troubled us with their field position” and Hawthorn definitely caught the Eagles off guard here getting men forward quickly on the counter, although their efforts did little to affect the scoreline which was 41-15 at half time.
The Eagles cranked up the pressure in the 3rd quarter, punishing the Hawks with three goals in five minutes, with Josh Kennedy scoring two and Jack Darling getting his second of the match.
Again the superiority of Nic Naitanui at the ruck shone through in the 3rd quarter, contributing to multiple goals and winning possession with a total of 14 hit-outs during the match, his best this season.Embed from Getty Images
The Eagles midfielders, Luke Shuey, Andrew Gaff, and Dom Sheed also deserve heaps of credit. Keeping the midfield tight, the three worked well to win possession back, with Gaff again setting up Liam Ryan for his third goal of the game.
Receiving the ball from Gaff, Ryan defied the laws of gravity to take probably the most impressive grab of his hattrick, rising high above the Hawks backline, and converting from around 45 yards out. He’s definitely our man of the match for this one.
The highlight of the game came in the form of an unselfish act from Jack Darling, who after taking an uncontested mark inside the Hawk’s 50, popped the ball off to debutant and ex-school teacher Nic Reid, who punted over for the first goal of his career.
A very classy move from Darling who was another standout performer scoring 2 goals and taking 7 marks during the game.
Things got worse for the Hawks, after forward James Sicily was helped off the field following a collision with Barrass, looking like he had jarred his knee.
West Coast also suffered their own loss with Jack Redden leaving the field and he looks to be set to miss out on next week’s clash with the Giants with a suspected adductor injury.
Head Coach Adam Simpson will want to keep an eye on his mounting injury list with Elliot Yeo, Redden, and Nathan Vardy joining an increasing list of players queueing up outside the treatment room.
But the Eagles showed the class of a premiership-winning side, not winning in the prettiest of manners, but certainly dominating a resilient Hawthorn side who put up a spirited fight.
They will now move onto next weekend’s Indigenous Round, where they will kick off a tough run of 5 games in 19 days starting with the GWS Giants.
Can they go one better and go 8 wins on the bounce?
West Coast Eagles: Kennedy (3); Ryan (3); Darling (2); Sheppard; Cripps; Reid; Allan. Hawthorn: Gunston (2); Shiels; Worpel; O’Brien; Glass; Burgoyne.
Our MOTM: Liam Ryan.
Stand-Out Players: Nic Naitanui; Jeremy McGovern; Tom Barras.
Injuries: Jack Redden (1 game out).