A controversial after-the-siren goal from Luke Shuey gave the West Coast Eagles a stunning extra-time elimination final win over Port Adelaide on Saturday evening.
For just the third time in VFL-AFL history, a final went to extra time, and it was the Power who looked like winners when Ollie Wines kicked them 13 points in front.
But the Eagles were not to be denied, drawing close through a pair of Josh Kennedy goals before Shuey was given a contentious free-kick for a high tackle with just 20 seconds remaining.
The siren sounded before Shuey could take his kick, with the Eagles trailing by four points, but the midfielder held his nerve to kick truly from 45m and spark wild celebrations among the West Coast players and fans.
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Shuey’s goal – his second of the night – saw West Coast post a scarcely believable 12.6 (78) to 10.16 (76) victory in front of 41,172 fans at the Adelaide Oval.
“We do a lot of work on our goal kicking and sticking to your routine … it went pretty well,” Shuey told the Seven Network afterwards.
“I was nervous … that’s as good a game as we’ve ever played in … bloody pumped to get the win.”
West Coast, who weren’t even in the final eight with less than 10 minutes of the regular season remaining, will now play Greater Western Sydney in a semi-final at Spotless Stadium next Saturday.
For the Power, their season is over, and six months stewing over the craziest finals defeat in recent memory will be particularly difficult to swallow.
“These wins – they go down in history,” an elated West Coast coach Adam Simpson said at his post-match press conference.
“I couldn’t be prouder … if you had to give anybody the ball after the siren, it’d be him [Shuey].
“I was pretty confident but a fair pressure kick isn’t it? No doubt the biggest of his career.”
Shuey, with 32 disposals, 11 tackles and his match-winning goal, was probably West Coast’s best, but defender Jeremy McGovern was also outstanding, claiming 15 marks and winning 25 disposals.
Andrew Gaff (34 disposals), Matthew Priddis (33) and Sam Mitchell (26) were also excellent for the winners.
West Coast burst out of the blocks with a four-goal-to-one first term and extended their advantage to 31 points midway through the second quarter.
Port came storming back into the contest, though, kicking six unanswered goals, with Sam Powell-Pepper’s snap early in the last quarter giving them a nine-point advantage.
It looked like game over from there, but the Eagles responded with goals to Priddis and veteran Drew Petrie before a pair of Travis Boak behinds levelled the scores and led to extra time.
In the additional 10 minutes, Port looked home as Wines added to Sam Gray’s goal, but their 13-point advantage was wiped out by an Eagles side who just wouldn’t say die.
Kennedy’s double salvo set up a thrilling finish and when Polec was adjudged to have tackled Shuey high, the Eagle was given a chance to live out a boyhood dream.
And that he did, kicking truly to end a rollercoaster elimination final that will never be forgotten
Swans slay Dons in bloodbath
In the other elimination final, the Swans were unstoppable with a 65-point belting of Essendon at the SCG, winning 19.7 (121) to 8.8 (56).
The Swans busted the elimination final open with 10 goals during the second term, four of which were booted by Lance Franklin after he spent quarter-time on an exercise bike with an injured thigh.
From that point, Sydney’s passage into Friday’s semi-final against the Cats at the MCG was never in doubt.
Franklin was put on ice for the final term as the Swans coach John Longmire insists his most potent player is in no risk of missing the knockout clash with Geelong.
“He’ll be fine … blokes get corkies every week,” Longmire said.
Captain Josh Kennedy, who willed his side to a history-making finals berth after their dismal 0-6 start to the year, was again one of the Swans’ best.
Franklin, who became the first man since Tony Lockett to earn a fourth Coleman medal with a 10-goal haul in the last regular-season round, started the second-quarter onslaught with three goals in five minutes.
– with AAP