West Coast Eagles 24.19 (162)
North Melbourne 9.12 (66)
The West Coast Eagles were always favourites in this match, but no one expected the rout that followed. The Eagles, it seemed, not fazed by 29 degree weather, as they stormed to a 96 point thrashing of North Melbourne.
The match was summed up when the vocal Perth crowd began partying with a Mexican wave, after they notched their biggest win against North Melbourne.
The Kangaroos were thought to have had an easy draw leading into the season, and perhaps the lack of stern tests throughout the season flattered their 8th position on the ladder. The fifth placed eagles were simply too good for the young North outfit.
In a frenetic opening few minutes, the ball went from end to end and both sides exchanged behinds before Josh Hill popped through the first for the Eagles from right in front. It then began to look ominous as Jack Darling slotted one from the boundary, and Andrew Embley banged one home from 60 not a minute later.
The access from the first use made the job easier for the Eagles midfielders, Nic Naitanui began as only Naitanui can, directly setting up Embley, and the next two goals to Darling and Eric McKenzie to push the Eagles out to a 32 point lead halfway through the quarter.
The Eagles tall timber was just too dominant, and Coach John Worsfold looked to capitalise and have the Kangaroos defence under siege. Todd Goldstien couldn’t give his midfielders the first use, and was easily outpointed by the duo of Cox and Naitanui.
North pushed late in the first term, and had 10 inside 50s for the quarter, but could only manage a miss and hit the post from two very gettable attempts.
In return, the Eagles punished the Roos on the rebound, and they skipped away to a 43 point quarter time lead. It was the first goalless quarter for the Kangaroos all year, and conversely, the Eagles biggest quarter in finals football.
The second quarter started just as bad for north Melbourne, Lachie Hanson hit their second poster for the afternoon, and not long after Andrew Swallow did the same. North’s usual contributors were struggling- Bastinac, Petrie and Brent Harvey having only ten touches between them halfway through the second term.
All Australian hopeful Beau Waters was carried off the ground with a suspected Achilles injury, but that was the only dampener on an otherwise faultless first half.
Jack Darling rubbed salt into the ever widening wound with his third goal, before Matt Campbell finally broke the Roos goal drought 20 minutes into the term.
North’s celebrations were short lived, as a ferocious Eagles outfit pressured the ball into their forward 50, and Darling added yet another goal. Patrick McGinnity joined the party not long after, when he snapped truly after the Eagles worked the ball from a kick out.
It just seemed that whenever the Kangaroos looked to rally, West Coast would match their efforts. With a dominant display in the ruck, the Eagles just looked irresistible at half time. Leading the hit-outs 31-10 at half time, the Kangaroos were always second to the ball, and a reactive display in a final was never going to turn out for the better.
At half time, the Eagles had a 54 point lead, 11.8 (74) to 2.8 (20).
The Roos started with some spark in the third, Hansen kicked the first for the term, but anything the Roos did, the Eagles did better. Kennedy responded before Matt Campbell slotted his second.
Andrew Embley showed flashes of his Norm Smith Medal winning form, his run and carry not an accurate reflection of his age, and he kicked his third for the match. The Eagles used the spaces of Paterson’s stadium to their advantage, run and carry, and the hapless Roos were always left chasing, and fighting blistering heat that forced umpire McBurney to wear a cap.
Robbie Tarrant was subbed off halfway throught the third, and that gave the impressive Keiran Harper a run around for the second half.
The Kangaroos outpointed West Coast 6 goals to 4 for the term, Petrie and Harvey contributing a couple of beauties, and Campbell slotted his third. Zeibull had 5 clearances for the term and was the best player in the third term.
But it was just a momentary lapse in an otherwise clinical display.
In his 250th game, Dean Cox kicked a clutch goal early in the last to steady for the Eagles, and at that point they were home. Kennedy added another, and all of the third quarter pressure from the Roos was alleviated in the space of 90 seconds.
The Eagles’ epic running down the wing was displayed for the umpteenth time of the afternoon, and Kennedy buried North’s season with another. He kicked three in the last term.
The Eagles out-marked the Roos by 55 marks, and had 68 more disposals throughout the game. They had 13 different goal kickers in the match, and Matt Priddis had 29 touches, whilst Daniel Kerr and Scott Selwood had 28 each. For the Kangaroos, Andrew Swallow and Jack Ziebell had 30 plus, but no one else had large contributions.
From there it was a procession and a party, West Coast kicked six in a row to secure what is now, an interesting semi final with Collingwood on Saturday night.
WEST COAST 7.4 11.8 15.11 24.18 (162)
NORTH MELBOURNE 0.3 2.8 8.10 9.12 (66)
West Coast: Darling 4, Embley 4, Kennedy 42, Lynch 3, Hill, Mackenzie, Shuey, McGinnity, Masten, Cox, Naitanui, Hurn, Kerr
North Melbourne: Campbell 3, Harvey 3, Hansen, Cunnington, Petrie
West Coast: Embley, Naitanui, Cox, Priddis, Selwood, Kerr
North Melbourne: Swallow, Ziebell, Campbell
Official crowd: 41,790 at Patersons Stadium
Matt Walsh is on Twitter @MattWalshMedia