Kangaroos, 5th place, unsung heroes, here are our key takeaways from round 18.
The final round of the AFL season went down to the wire. The Eagles had it all to do in the game against North Melbourne, with the 17th placed side just escaping the wooden spoon on points difference by taking the game to the Eagles lumping the pressure on the Eagles midfield.
The win wasn’t a masterpiece but the boys ultimately got the job done, edging the Roos by 15 points and left their 4th place hopes up to the Crows and the Swans to see if they could scalp a win against the Tigers or the Cats.
But there was a lot to talk about from this round starting with Liam Duggan who deserves a lot of credit for his performances this season and for that killer mullet.
Liam Duggan – The Mullet Man
Duggan has stood out this year as being one of the best and most valuable players for the Eagles. Although he doesn’t take the front page and neither does he have his name in the headlights, Duggo is one of the West Coast’s unsung heroes, who has worked hard on the floor to help the Eagles grind out some tough fought wins.
Duggan was a crucial asset for the Eagles in their win against North this weekend, racking up 20 disposals, 3 marks, and 3 tackles, and showed his impressive work rate, to track down the fast-moving North midfield. Duggo has had a great season in the defence but has also stood up to take on a role in the midfield several times this year when the Eagles were reeling from their battered squad.
A vital member of the team, Duggan’s versatility and graft this year has made him an integral part of this Eagles side and is definitely deserved of his Geoff Christian medal nomination.
Someone should give him an award for that ripper of a mullet too.
Liam Ryan – All-Australian
The excitement machine flew again this weekend, notching 2 very important goals for the Eagles, the second of which showed off Ryan’s slick footwork and lethal turn of pace. Ryan is showing everyone that he is truly becoming the complete forward, by kicking some important goals, taking some outrageous marks, and showing his creativity to bag multiple assists and play his teammates in.
Ryan clocked 7 score involvements at the weekend for the Eagles, and it was his genius that ultimately led the team to come back in the third and fourth quarters of the match to grab the win.
He has continuously performed and provided some thrilling moments this year for the Eagles and is surely a shoo-in for a spot in this year’s All-Australian team.
Finals – Fifth Place Finish
The bad news is that the Crows and the Swans couldn’t quite get a scalp against the Tigers or the Cats, meaning the Eagles will slip down and finish the season in fifth place.
The Swans very nearly came close to taking a result off the Cats though, narrowly losing the game, which sealed the Eagles 5th place fate.
But there is some good news, as this means the West Coast will play their opening elimination finals fixture at home against a Collingwood side who were taken apart late on by this year’s minor premier’s Port Adelaide.
Although the Eagles will have to play more games than their 4th place rivals, we’re holding the Eagles out as favourites to get past the first round and even make it to the preliminary finals as they start to see some of their key players return.
Meanwhile, at the bottom of the top 8, GWS lost out to St Kilda who put 82 points past the Sydney side, securing the sixth spot for the Saints, while Melbourne’s 19 point win against Essendon wasn’t enough to put the Dees into the top 8 with, the Dogs grabbing a win against Freo and Collingwood just holding on the 8th spot with 36 points.
Josh Kennedy – Ankle Anomaly
Kennedy looked to be in some trouble this weekend, left the field in the second quarter after falling awkwardly on his ankle.
After Kennedy has suffered ankle problems in the past, the medicos were quick to respond taking Kennedy into the treatment room to assess the damage. He came back out onto the bench with an ice pack on his ankle and looked a bit despondent on the touch-line.
Perhaps this was a precautionary damage limitation move for the top scorer, but early reports are looking better than we first thought with the Eagles all-time leading goalkicker looking likely to be fit for the Collingwood game in two weeks.
Shannon Hurn – Experience, Class, Dependable
The ex-captain and Eagles stalwart showed this weekend how important he is to this Eagles side. An unsung hero of late, Hurn has been exceptional all year, doing the dirty work to pull the Eagles through in some tough games, and Thursday night was no different. Hurn led the defence in McGovern’s absence and clocked up a huge 9 intercepts, 9 rebound 50s, and 4 tackles throughout the game.
And with 23 disposals, Hurn swept up a lot of ball for the Eagles lifting the side to amp up the pressure on the Roos in the second half and close out the game. The 33-year-old certainly led by example, covering a lot of ground throughout the match and put in a couple of whopping hits on the North Melbourne forwards who looked like they’d been hit by a train.
It’s been a great season overall for Hurn and the Eagles and hopefully, they can march on and go all the way to the grand final this year.