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Eagles firm up top-four spot with solid win over Hawks

Tom Mitchell, Jaeger O’Meara and James Worpel were all good for Hawthorn, but Andrew Gaff, Luke Shuey and Luke Shuey were better – and had more help.

The Hawks have dropped to 16th on the AFL ladder after their sixth loss in seven rounds; two places lower than their worst finish under Alastair Clarkson (14th in 2005, his first season as coach).

Tap out: Eagle Nic Naitanui goes up against Hawthorn's Ben McEvoy in a ruck contest.

Tap out: Eagle Nic Naitanui goes up against Hawthorn’s Ben McEvoy in a ruck contest.Credit:Getty Images

They leave their Western Australian hub to enter one in South Australian for a three-game schedule, starting with a clash against ladder leaders Port Adelaide next week.

James Sicily is unlikely to be unavailable for some of those games, at best, after being helped from the ground in the dying couple of minutes with a knee injury.

Home sweet home

The Eagles have clearly enjoyed playing host to a hub in Perth, having won five consecutive games at home.

The margin on Sunday could yet prove important as the season unfolds.

Singing in the rain: Nic Read celebrates a goal on debut for the Eagles amid a brief downpour at Optus Stadium in Perth.

Singing in the rain: Nic Read celebrates a goal on debut for the Eagles amid a brief downpour at Optus Stadium in Perth.Credit:Getty Images

West Coast returned to Perth from Queensland after Round 6 with a 3-3 win-loss record, but a percentage of only 92.65 per cent.

Now after the 12.9 (81) to 7.7 (49) win over Hawthorn, that percentage sits at 121.1.

They may return to a Queensland hub after next week’s game against Greater Western Sydney, not only in the top four but with a percentage better than the second places Brisbane Lions and St Kilda (fifth).

They won’t be far off top side Port Adelaide, with Geelong (138.5%) the standout.

Welcome back Gov

Hawthorn provided Jeremy McGovern the softest return to AFL action after missing three games with a thumb injury.

The Hawks gave themselves plenty of chances to score, on the back of Mitchell and O’Meara’s solid work in the midfield. But they failed to make the most of their chances.

Happy returns: Jeremy McGovern added to the on-field firepower for the Eagles.

Happy returns: Jeremy McGovern added to the on-field firepower for the Eagles.Credit:Getty Images

Hawthorn went scoreless in the opening term, for the first time since Round 11, 2017 when they lost to Port Adelaide by 51-points.

They got themselves into dangerous scoring positions in the first term, more often than West Coast did. But every time they did, they kicked it high into their attacking zone, allowing McGovern and Tom Barrass to do what they do well – take intercept marks.

Hawthorn dominated inside 50 entries early in the game (14-8) and won the opening term (15-12) but lost the first quarter 3.4 (22) to 0.0 (0).

Barrass took five marks and McGovern four in the first quarter; the entire Hawthorn team took 14.

The Hawks finished the game with four more entries into their attacking area than West Coast had.

Worth the price of admission

While Josh Kennedy continued his goalkicking streak and run towards the Coleman Medal, it was Liam Ryan who got the crowd to its feet – three times.

The exciting small forward kicked three goals, all resulting from big pack marks that will make all highlight reels.

Flyin' Ryan: West Coast's Liam Ryan soars through the pack to take a spectacular grab.

Flyin’ Ryan: West Coast’s Liam Ryan soars through the pack to take a spectacular grab.Credit:Getty Images

The return ended a bit of a drought for Ryan who has not kicked multiple goals in a game since Round 3 against Brisbane, after having only three possessions against Carlton a week earlier.

Kennedy was against reliable in attack, also kicking three goals.

His first, the game’s first, was kicked from almost the exact same spot where Jack Newnes kicked the winning goal for Carlton against Fremantle the night before.

There is a bigman shootout looming for the Coleman Medal honour. Kennedy’s season’s tally is now 27, just three behind Geelong’s Tom Hawkins. St Kilda’s Dan Butler has 22.

WEST COAST 3.4 6.5 11.7 12.9 (81)
HAWTHORN 0.0 2.3 5.6 7.7 (49)

GOALS – West Coast: Kennedy 3, Ryan 3, Darling 2, Sheppard, Allen, Cripps, Reid
Hawthorn: Gunston 2, Glass, O’Brien, Burgoyne, Worpel, Shiels

BEST – West Coast: L Shuey, N Naitanui, T Barrass, A Gaff, D Sheed, J Darling.
Hawthorn: J O’Meara, T Mitchell, L Shiels, J Scrimshaw, W Day, C Wingard.

UMPIRES: Margetts, Johanson, Williamson
VENUE: Optus Stadium
CROWD: 22870

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