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Eagles soar into four as injury hits Dons again

Joe Daniher (0.3) was unable to repeat his comeback heroics from last week while returning skipper Dyson Heppell had a quiet night for a side that had plenty of chances against but failed to take them.

Ankle: Andrew McGrath.

Ankle: Andrew McGrath.Credit:Getty Images

Dylan Shiel and Zach Merrett accumulated 32 touches apiece for Essendon and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti had four goals, but ultimately the Eagles’ midfield class, defensive poise and the expert finishing from Liam Ryan (four goals) proved too much.

Despite Essendon dominating for a large portion of the third quarter, West Coast were able to extend their lead to 21 points at the last change.

McDonald-Tipungwuti’s third goal saw the Bombers close to within nine points but Tom Cole’s career-first goal in his 52nd match, and a late major to Ryan from a forward-half turnover that just beat the siren, lifted the Eagles who saw little ball in the third term.

West Coast flew to a 34-point cushion midway through the second term but the Bombers reeled off three rapid-fire goals to reduce the margin to 16 points at the main break.

With stingy defence that continually repelled Essendon surges in the second term, West Coast dominated territory and possession but failed to capitalise until Ryan eventually goaled 11 minutes in. He hit the scoreboard again soon after to help open up a 28-point buffer that extended further when Jack Darling converted from a lovely contested mark.

A Heppell snap stopped the rot for the Bombers as teammate McGrath was taken from the field with an ankle injury. Essendon crept closer when McDonald-Tipungwuti put through his second goal of the night.

Liam Ryan booted four goals for the winners.

Liam Ryan booted four goals for the winners.Credit:Getty Images

James Stewart’s goal dragged the Bombers further back into the contest by the main break after being on the cusp of being blown off the Gabba by the rampant Eagles.

West Coast got off to a bright start with Naitanui, Jack Redden and Shuey combining for a training drill-like centre clearance from the opening bounce to thrust the Eagles into attack.

Ryan was on the end of the slick midfield work and had West Coast’s first goal on the board inside the first minute.

The Bombers hit back quickly through McDonald-Tipungwuti after he found space out the back for Essendon’s only major of the term. Daniher and Cale Hooker had chances but sprayed their shots wide.

Oscar Allen converted from a free kick and Darling produced a lovely long-range set shot after being poked in the eye in a marking contest to help the Eagles kick away and they established their 25-10 quarter-time buffer after Darling tapped the ball in the path of Bailey Williams, who soccered through the Sherrin for the first goal if his AFL career.

Nic Naitanui and Sam Draper square off on Tuesday night.

Nic Naitanui and Sam Draper square off on Tuesday night.Credit:Getty Images

DANIHER STRUGGLES
Much like his comeback match against Hawthorn, Joe Daniher had a quiet first half with just three touches and one behind. But this time he wasn’t able to produce the same second-half heroics. Two missed set shots after half-time and a wayward snap in the first wreaked of fatigue.

INJURY WORRY
Eagles skipper Luke Shuey appeared to suffer a hamstring issue at the last break and received medical attention. Despite copping a hamstring injury earlier in the year, he returned to the match late only to hobble from the field.

WEST COAST 4.1 7.3 9.5 9.6 (60)
ESSENDON 1.4 4.5 5.8 6.9 (45)

GOALS
West Coast: Ryan 4, Darling 2, Allen, Cole, Williams.
Essendon: McDonald-Tipungwuti 4, Heppell, Stewart.

BEST
West Coast: Ryan, Naitanui, Gaff, Shuey, Sheppard, McGovern.
Essendon: Shiel, Merrett, McDonald-Tipungwuti, Langford, Ridley, Parish.

INJURIES
West Coast: Shuey (hamstring).
Essendon: McGrath (ankle).

UMPIRES
Gavine, Chamberlain, Mollison.

CROWD
1932 at the Gabba.

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