If West Coast is going to take its winning form on the road and keep hold of its spot in the top eight, it’s going to have to do it without its injured list of leaders.
After beating Fremantle by 59 points on Sunday afternoon, coach Adam Simpson said he isn’t expecting anyone to come in from the medical room in time for next Sunday’s Mother’s Day clash against Hawthorn at the MCG.
The near 10-goal smashing of the Dockers sent the Eagles back in to the eight after the 97-point loss to Geelong a week earlier dumped them from it.
If they want to stay there in the short term, they are going to have to win away from Optus Stadium for the first time this season.
Simpson said finding that consistency is the goal.
“It’s not about winning every week. The game and the season – if you’re off a little bit, you can get hurt a lot,” he said.
“I’d just love to see us play our best version of what we look like as a team. And if we’re not good enough, that’s fine, that’s football. But trying to play near our best – win or lose – that’s our goal every week.
“Our challenge is to be consistent every week. A lot of clubs are finding that difficult and we’re no different.
“I’m proud of the players, but the challenge is if we can do that consistently, home and away, and it starts next week against Hawthorn.”
The Eagles’ four wins this season have all come at home, against Gold Coast (25 points), Collingwood (27), Port Adelaide (37) and Fremantle.
The losses have come at an average of 41.3 points though, to Geelong (97 points) at GMHBA Stadium, St Kilda (20) at Marvel Stadium and the Western Bulldogs (seven points), also at Marvel Stadium.
Simpson’s Eagles are away from Perth for two of the next three weeks. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Sunday’s win against the Dockers was impressive in that the Eagles were again without midfield stars Luke Shuey and Elliot Yeo.
In the days leading up to the game, Shannon Hurn and Tom Barrass were also ruled out of the game, joining Jeremy McGovern on the sidelines, who was injured against the Cats.
Tim Kelly led the midfield’s recovery after it was well beaten by Geelong a week earlier. The former Cat had a career-high 42 possessions (23 contested), nine tackles, 13 clearances and 13 score involvement.
His performance was not lost on his coach.
“The good thing about Tim at the moment is – and I saw him do it last year in the St Kilda game as well – when we really need him to step up for us, he’s trying his very best to do that,” he said.
“I thought he complemented our mids. The collective of our midfield group played an important role to our win.”
Oscar Allen was also singled out by Simpson. Usually a tall forward, he sat at the other end of the ground while Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling and Jake Waterman filled their boots with three goals apiece.
Instead, Allen led a makeshift defence that gave up nine goals in the opening half, but only two after the main break.
“Early on we were getting beaten. We couldn’t work together and support each other, but that is the be expected of our backline,” Simpson said.
“I thought Oscar worked his way into the game well. ideally he is playing forward or forward-ruck, but with the weight of numbers, Shannon (Hurn) going out late, we toyed stacking our forward line.
“Knowing his experience is not great, but his maturity is and his ability to handle that with a younger backline playing together for the first time ever, I thought he was a part of a very good mix there once we settled in the second half.”
With Hawthorn also struggling for consistency, this could be a good time for the Eagles to be meeting them on the road.
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