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The fight for the wooden spoon, and the prized number 1 draft pick that comes with it, is still very much alive.

With four rounds to play, West Coast and North Melbourne are separated by just percentage after the Eagles led at every change in their thrilling five-point win over the Kangaroos at Optus Stadium on Sunday.

West Coast looked home at the change, 31 points ahead after keeping the Kangaroos scoreless in the third term.

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But they managed just one behind themselves in a nail-biting final term. The Kangaroos dominated play, but couldn’t get their noses in front.

West Coast held on for a well received 10.12 (72) to 10.7 (67) victory.

The result halted their worst-ever losing streak at 16 games, having last won in round 2, when they beat Greater Western Sydney.

The loss leaves Brett Ratten winless after 10 games at the helm of the Roos, with Alastair Clarkson due to take charge again before the they host Melbourne at Blundstone Arena in round 21.

They had their chances, with 13 more clearances.

Luke Davies-Uniacke was again outstanding with 30 touches and a goal. Harry Sheezel showed some brilliance in his 31-touch game, with some smart work in attack late that nearly saw his side home.

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Jack Darling had a sensational start.Source: Getty Images


Jamie Cripps has been a catalyst for strong performances for 11 seasons.

He’s been one of the many veterans that the Eagles have missed this season.

He set the tone for West Coast with its first goal. He had two on the board in the opening term as the Eagles led at quarter-time for just the fourth time this season.

Cripps finished with 11 tackles, while Tim Kelly was again outstanding with 26 touches and seven clearances.

It was Jack Darling’s opening term that had the local fans on their feet, believing a win was on the cards.

Darling had 10 touches before quarter-time, but when he sold candy to Davies-Uniacke late in the quarter, setting up Oscar Allen for his first goal, the roar was deafening.

Darling, who had just one touch in the opening term a week earlier against Carlton, a handball, also took five marks, at both ends of the ground, in the opening 30 minutes against the Roos.

He had only one touch in the second term as the Roos got themselves going, but rallied again to finish with 18 touches and a goal.


The Eagles led by 31 points early in the second term after kicking six consecutive goals.

That was before Paul Curtis bobbed up with four goals for the term.

Early indication was the Roos forward was in for a rough day.

He’d comically missed two chances to score goal from the goal line, but botched them both.

He stood by and watched Alex Witherden spoil a shot on goal, only for it to land on the line. He could have walked in and toe-poked it through for an uncontested goal. But he sat back and watched the Eagles defenders run it away.

Then early in the second term, he had an uncontested shot from within his own goal square, but sprayed it and hit the goal post.

He didn’t let those mishaps define his day, kicking four goals in the second quarter.

He finished with 4.1 and missed a shot to tie the scores with just 90 seconds left on the clock that fell short.

It was an important spell for the Kangaroos as Nick Larkey was being well held.

When North Melbourne beat the Eagles in the opening round of the season, it was Larkey that starred, with six goals.

And with Tom Barrass and Jeremy McGovern missing on Sunday, Larkey looked likely to have a big He’d had four touches and kicked two behinds before the start of the last term, but kicked two goals in the last quarter to give his side a sniff.


It was an unsurprisingly scrappy affair in the opening stanzas, but it was West Coast who dominated territory, keeping the ball in their forward half and creating a couple of early chances but failing to convert.

31-year-old Jack Darling opened the scoring for the Eagles with a behind when his attempt from wide on the right was batted back. And Jack Petruccelle made it two behinds without a major when he rattled the post with a snapped effort on the run.

West Coast had the first four inside 50s of the match, but Kayne Turner bagged the first goal of the day for the Roos through some brilliant work at the stoppage. He charged down an attempted clearance kick from Rhett Bazzo and made no mistake in the sixth minute.

Both teams were attempting to play patiently, but the Eagles bagged their first major with a quick entry into the 50 that broke through the packed midfield area with a kick to a two-on-two.

Jack Darling selflessly batted it down for Jamie Cripps to kick into the open goal, and hardly a minute later Xavier O’Neill picked up the scraps when the ball fell to him on the flank and snapped from a tight angle to make the score 14-6.

Darling had started the clash in fine fashion, with a season-high first quarter tally of seven disposals – something he has only matched in one other quarter all season.

Matthew Pavlich in commentary declared: “This is his best game start for quite some time.”

Will Schofield added: “Best I’ve seen him in a long time.”

His workrate and impact around the park was on full display as he raced all the way to fullback for an intercept mark, but he charged right back towards the centre square to deliver a sensational sidestep and deliver a pinpoint kick for captain Oscar Allen, who kicked it perfectly between the posts for a third unanswered goal. In a worrying sign for the Kangaroos, all three goals came from plays beginning in the Eagles’ own back half.

The Kangaroos spurned a chance to hit back when Nick Larkey uncharacteristically kicked wide for a single from a good set-shot chance.

The Eagles were beginning to control the game, winning the contested possession battle by hunting for the ball as a pack.

West Coast made it four unanswered goals – with all of their points coming from turnovers – when they won the battle for a ground ball in their forward 50, quickly handballing it to Jayden Hunt who bent it home in fine fashion.

As Darling made it 10 disposals – by far a season-high for any quarter, beating his previous best of seven – Adam Papalia said in commentary: “He’s red hot in this first quarter. Contested mark, running, chasing, tackling, doing it all!”

He had five marks to go with a game-high 214 metres gained in the first quarter, while his ten disposals was higher than his season average of 9.4 (for an entire match).

North’s caretaker coach Brett Rattan was shown laying down the law to his troops in the interval after tallying 15 fewer marks than their opponents, with Adam Papalia in commentary calling it: “An old-fashioned quarter time spray.”

West Coast’s excellent work in their forward 50 continued in the second term to reap rewards as they were first to yet another second ball, feeding Jamie Cripps for his second of the game.

Dermott Brereton said in commentary: “They can’t stop scoring!”

Jack Petruccelle then made it six goals without reply as the Eagles surged clear despite the Kangaroos dominating clearance numbers.

It came off the back of some brilliant play from Jayden Hunt, who burst off the mark and fumbled the ball at top speed, but somehow managed to bundle it far down the field before eventually regathering, the Eagles quickly moving it forward to Petruccelle.

North’s nightmare start was then embodied perfectly when Paul Curtis found himself alone inside the goalsquare after the ball fell his way. He could have walked it in with no defenders in sight, but he somehow managed to kick it off the side of his boot into the post.

But he made amends soon afterwards by lunging desperately to shin a ball through for a major, before Robert Hansen Jr added another behind a minute later in a strong five-minute period for the visitors.

And Curtis soon had another goal in the 12th minute with his third kick from inside the goal square in seven minutes!

The Kangaroos had been dominated in the contested possession count in the first quarter, but Rattan’s spray seemed to have its intended effect with North Melbourne significantly ahead in that regard in the second quarter.

After Xavier O’Neill saw a long-range attempt for the Eagles batted over the posts for a behind, the Kangaroos continued their charge when Tristan Xerri won a penalty for being held and made no mistake.

Curtis’ remarkable recovery from his earlier howler continued as another stoppage fell his way, and he blasted the ball from outside the arc to bounce over the line and make it three goals for him in the quarter.

NM had Josh Goater disappear down the tunnel for treatment on an apparent knee injury, before Nick Larkey and Jack Williams traded behinds for the Roos and Eagles respectively.

The Eagles were being absolutely decimated at the clearances, which became the source of North’s scoring spree.

And in a bizarre move, they opted to send Rhett Bazzo to the bench for Elliot Yeo, initially sparking fears he had suffered a game-ending injury – though the Eagles reported it was instead a ‘tactical’ move.

Jack Williams added another behind for the Eagles, but it was North Melbourne still in the ascension, and they soon made it five in a row to reduce the limit to one point.

Curtis made it four for the quarter – and four of the last five for the game – when he claimed a mark in controversial fashion after pushing the back of Yeo.

But Oscar Allen had the last strike of the half, flying high to take an absolute screamer and bending home his second of the game from out wide.

It sparked wild celebrations for the Eagles, who ended the runaway North Melbourne charge.

The Eagles had led by as much as 30 points before Paul Curtis’ brilliant takeover. “He’s been on fire,” Matthew Pavlich said, with his late goal ensuring the Eagles had a seven-point lead at the main break.

The Eagles finally ended their miserable night at the clearances by starting hot in that department in the third, while pouring forward with a one-sided inside 50 count.

They struggled to kick straight early on despite plenty of chances on the back of their high-pressure defence, with Oscar Allen picking up two behinds in the opening minutes and Elijah Hewett another.

But Jack Darling kicked his first of the game in the 11th minute from a free kick, before young gun Noah Long also bagged his first of the afternoon, stretching the lead back to 22 points.

With their biggest three quarter time lead in two years, the Eagles headed into the final quarter with a 31-point advantage.

But the match soured when Oscar Allen limped from the field early in the term.

“Bad news for West Coast fans, Oscar Allen has just come hobbling off,” Will Schofield reported.

“A very concerning sight for West Coast Eagles fans.”

When Tristan Xerri got forward and goaled, suddenly the pressure was back on West Coast as the margin sat at 19 points.

With Allen able to return to the contest with his left leg strapped, the big man sprayed his snap on goal.

Some desperate Lachie Young defence denied the Eagles a shot on goal as the crowd lifted.

“Absolute desperation stakes,” Pavlich praised.

“He spoiled it away perfectly from Allen.”

When Luke Davies-Uniacke brought his side within seven points, young Harry Sheezel thought he kicked another – and celebrated like it only for the goal umpire to call it a behind.

Paul Curtis had the chance to level scores – but dropped his shot short and it was rushed through.

And when Elliot Yeo won the footy at half back, it was game over for North Melbourne.

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