New West Coast coach Adam Simpson enjoyed a dream debut in the hot seat as his side cruised to a 65-point victory over the Western Bulldogs in Sunday’s AFL clash at Patersons Stadium.
Forward Mark LeCras booted five goals, while Dean Cox starred in the ruck in the 21.8 (134) to 11.3 (69) rout.
Eagles midfielder Sharrod Wellingham faces a nervous wait after he stuck out his leg to trip Bulldogs speedster Jason Johannisen in the third quarter.
But apart from that it was good news for the Eagles, whose firepower around the ground proved too much to handle for a Bulldogs side that had hoped to give the finals a shake this year.
Cox (23 possessions, 26 hit-outs), Andrew Gaff, Matt Rosa, LeCras, Jack Darling (four goals) and Matt Priddis were crucial in the win, while ruckman Nic Naitanui played out a full match in a sign that he’s finally overcome his groin injury.
Bulldogs defender Dale Morris held Josh Kennedy to just two goals, while Shaun Higgins (23 possessions, two goals) overcame a knee to the head from Naitanui to be one of his team’s best.
Veteran Robert Murphy kicked two goals, but the classy playmaker was relatively quiet in his 250-game milestone.
The Bulldogs’ handball-happy game plan proved to be their undoing, with the Eagles’ unrelenting pressure causing a glut of turnovers.
Former Bomber Stewart Crameri made a bright start to his time at the Bulldogs, opening his account with a stunning goal on the run from the boundary line early in the match.
But with the Eagles boasting tall timber Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling, Callum Sinclair and a resting ruckman in attack, Crameri spent large chunks of the first half in defence.
West Coast led by just 13 points at quarter time, but they broke the game wide open in the second term with a five-goal blitz.
The Eagles won most of the key statistics in the first half.
The inside-50m count (32-14), contested possessions (89-64), hit-outs (32-16), clearances (27-21) and marks (41-25) all heavily favoured West Coast, and the scoreboard reflected their dominance.
Former Eagles coach John Worsfold was given a standing ovation by the 36,752 crowd during a lap of honour at halftime.
The celebrations continued in the second half as the Eagles cruised to victory in impressive style, with the final inside-50m count reading 60-37.