West Coast Eagles have reminded all of the AFL how good they can be with a highly-impressive 37-point win over Port Adelaide at Perth Stadium.
The Eagles’ romp at home concluded an Easter Saturday of football that saw the Sydney Swans remain undefeated with a big win over Richmond at the MCG, and Essendon thrashed a poor St Kilda at Docklands.
West Coast was coming off a tough seven-point loss to the Western Bulldogs at Docklands, while Port Adelaide came in with confidence on the back of a 60-point thumping of Essendon at Adelaide Oval.
The Eagles have a strong record at home, but no one was expecting the ease with which they made the previously-undefeated Power side look second-rate.
They were never headed, leading by 27 points at quarter-time and going on with it from there.
The game was all but over by half-time with West Coast kicking 10 goals to the visitors’ two.
Port Adelaide managed to edge the second half, but they never recovered from West Coast’s dominating early display. The Eagles kept the Power — who had averaged 61 inside 50s a game this season — to just 40 forward entries for the night.
They dominated clearances and contested possessions and generally controlled the game.
Josh Kennedy kicked four for the Eagles, with three to Jack Darling and two each to Jamie Cripps and Liam Ryan. For Port Adelaide, Robbie Gray and Todd Marshall booted three each, but it was nowhere near enough.
Ryan took five grabs, including a mark of the year contender in the second quarter where he used Darcy Byrne-Jones as a stepladder as the crowd roared its approval.
The only sour note for the home side was midfielder Luke Shuey, who had 28 disposals, eight clearances and seven marks in an impressive first game for the year, before picking up a hamstring injury in the latter stages of the final quarter.
The loss for the Power sets up apressure-packed Friday night blockbuster at Adelaide Oval against the Tigers, who were outplayed by Sydney at the MCG earlier in the day.
West Coast next faces St Kilda at Docklands followed by a home game against Collingwood and a trip to Kardinia Park to play Geelong.
Saints have no answers in Bombers’ big win
Essendon has kickstarted its season and left a listless St Kilda in its wake in a stunning 75-point thrashing at Docklands.
Heavy underdogs heading into Saturday’s game, the Bombers ran riot for a thumping 22.11 (143) to 9.14 (68) victory.
The Bombers were coming off two losses and injuries to Dylan Shiel, Jye Caldwell and Sam Draper, while skipper Dyson Heppell was also sidelined.
But in his first game for the year Jake Stringer was at his explosive best – setting up the victory with a stunning four-goal first half, while Darcy Parish (34 disposals) and Zach Merrett (34 disposals) were superb through the midfield.
Cale Hooker snagged five goals, while Jordan Ridley (35 disposals, 10 marks) was commanding in defence and draftee Nik Cox impressed all day.
It was a horror day out for the Saints who, bar skipper Jack Steele (35 disposals) were beaten on all fronts and lost gun midfielder Jade Gresham to a suspected achilles injury in the second quarter.
The Bombers were frenetic from the opening bounce, with relentless pressure and youthful enthusiasm coming to the fore.
Stringer started in the middle with Merrett and Parish but pushed forward to get Essendon off the mark in the opening minute.
He then set up Cox to snap Essendon’s second and the Bombers kicked on from there – taking a 19-point lead into quarter-time.
St Kilda’s day went from bad to worse when Gresham had to be helped off the field by trainers in the second quarter, replaced immediately by medical substitute Ben Long.
Meanwhile the Bombers booted six goals — including three from Stringer — to St Kilda’s one for the quarter to take a 49-point lead into the main break.
Essendon activated medical substitute Tom Cutler in the third quarter for Mason Redman (hamstring) and while they eased off, still extended their lead to 61 points at the final change.
They then added another six in the last term, condemning the Saints to a 1-2 start.
Swans stun Tigers at MCG
Sydney’s extraordinary start to the AFL season has continued as the Swans stunned reigning premiers Richmond in a 45-point thrashing at the MCG.
Sydney went 3-0 for the first time since 2016 after storming out to a 40-point lead at the main break, before easing past the Tigers 17.15 (117) to 10.12 (72).
Making Saturday’s victory all the more impressive, Sydney did it at Richmond’s home fortress, with the lacklustre Tigers suffering just their fifth loss at the MCG since 2017.
Just like their victories over Brisbane and Adelaide, the Swans’s fire mostly came from their talented group of young guns.
Errol Gulden and Braeden Campbell received Rising Star nominations for breakout performances in the opening two rounds and there is a queue of other Swans lining up to join them.
In just his fifth game, Chad Warner produced a stunning display with a three-goal, 20-possession game full of exciting bursts out of the middle.
Even with Lance Franklin resting after making his long-awaited comeback from injury last week, the Swans had no shortage of options up forward as they kicked more than 100 points for the third-straight week.
Ace small forward Tom Papley booted four goals, speedster Sam Wicks slotted three, while rejuvenated ruckman Tom Hickey, Isaac Heeney and young key forward Logan McDonald added two each.
After two rebuilding seasons, this result puts the Swans in genuine finals contention after being widely tipped to finish outside the top-eight.
Sydney coach John Longmire attempted to downplay the result but was thrilled to secure the Swans’ first win against the Tigers since 2017.
“We have enormous respect for what Richmond have been able to do, and continue to do,” he said.
“They’re an A-grade team, and we have the utmost respect for that, but that still means we can be hard and composed and how we want to play.”
Richmond’s much-vaunted midfield was smashed by the hungry Swans, with Tigers stars Dustin Martin and Trent Cotchin well below their best.
“Credit where credit’s due, (Sydney) were simply outstanding,” Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said.
“The score flattered us; I felt like it was a 10-goal loss and they thought they killed us in every facet of the game.”
Adding more pain to the shock upset for the Tigers was a hamstring injury to star midfielder Dion Prestia, who was subbed out in the opening term for Daniel Rioli.
Tigers utility Kamdyn McIntosh was assisted off the ground in the last quarter after being dazed in a collision with Swans defender Dane Rampe, while skipper Cotchin finished the game with ice to his hamstring and groin areas.
The Swans will be back in action on Thursday night for a clash with struggling Essendon at the SCG, while the Tigers aim to rebound from their first defeat since last year’s qualifying final when they travel for a blockbuster meeting with Port Adelaide.