Sport AFL LeCras hurt as Eagles battle past dogged Saints

LeCras hurt as Eagles battle past dogged Saints

Dean Cox
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West Coast sharpshooter Mark LeCras was left nursing another arm injury in Saturday night’s 25-point win over St Kilda at Patersons Stadium.

LeCras was subbed off in the opening quarter due to an issue with his right arm, which he fractured last season.

St Kilda also suffered an injury blow in the 12.11 (83) to 8.10 (58) loss, with defender Sam Gilbert subbed off in the opening minutes after re-injuring his foot.

Gilbert, who fractured his left foot in February, was placed in a moon boot after limping off early against the Eagles.

West Coast entered the match as the hottest of favourites, but it took them more than three quarters before they were able to break St Kilda’s spirit.

Veteran Saints Leigh Montagna, Nick Riewoldt and Lenny Hayes were influential in the first half, helping the Saints take an eight-point lead into the long break.

The margin stretched to 12 points when exciting Saints speedster Eli Templeton nailed a tight shot six minutes into the third term.

But West Coast finally got into their groove, booting seven of the next eight goals to take control of the contest.

Fittingly, Eagles ruckman Dean Cox kicked the sealer on a day when he equalled Glen Jakovich’s club record of 276 games.

Cox finished with 34 hit-outs, 15 possessions and a goal in another standout performance, while Matt Priddis and Jack Darling were also important.

Saints young gun Luke Dunston enjoyed a fine outing with 29 possessions and two goals, while the usual suspects in Montagna and Hayes tried their best to lift their side to an upset win.

St Kilda were tipped by many punters to win the wooden spoon this season.

But wins over GWS and Melbourne, plus their gutsy display against the Eagles in Perth, showed it won’t be all doom and gloom this year under new coach Alan Richardson.

West Coast are flying at 3-0, but their true test will come over the next month when they take on Geelong, Port Adelaide, Carlton and Fremantle.

The Eagles were forced to make a late shuffle when midfielder Sharrod Wellingham withdrew due to groin soreness.

His absence paved the way for Will Schofield to return to the side, and the defender was thrust into the action early when LeCras was subbed out.

St Kilda’s wayward goalkicking cost them early, but Montagna’s outstanding first half (19 possessions, two goals) lifted the Saints into the lead.

But the Saints managed just two goals in the second half, with Riewoldt starved for opportunities when the game was up for grabs in the final quarter.