Sport AFL Eagles stun reigning premiers Hawthorn

Eagles stun reigning premiers Hawthorn

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West Coast have showcased their AFL premiership credentials with a massive 32-point qualifying final win over Hawthorn.

The Eagles’ 14.12 (96) to 9.10 (64) win on Friday night at Domain Stadium puts them in the box seat to make their first grand final since the 2006 premiership.

They have the week off before a home preliminary final, the first time since 2011 the Eagles have gone this far into the season.

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The two-time defending premiers were outclassed and also lost forward Jack Gunston with what appears to be a serious ankle injury.

Hawthorn rallied in the last term, but Mark Hutchings’ goal at 22 minutes sealed the result.

Eagles midfielder Luke Shuey was best afield, racking up 25 disposals and playing a crucial role as they broke clear in the second quarter.

While the Eagles are flying, there are big question marks over the Hawks.

If they win next week’s semi-final against the Western Bulldogs or Adelaide, they will have to travel to play Fremantle or Sydney in a preliminary final.

Hawthorn also suffered upset losses to Richmond and Port Adelaide in their last few matches before the finals.

On Friday night, West Coast became the latest team to work out how to pick them apart.

With Sam Mitchell and Cyril Rioli making strong starts, the early signs were good for Hawthorn and they led by a point at quarter-time.

West Coast had also suffered a big blow before the match when Brownlow Medallist Matt Priddis had to pull out because of injury.

Jeremy McGovern’s shoulder problem flared again and he had to leave the field for treatment.

He returned at quarter time, but was restricted for the rest of the match.

The second quarter started with a terrible Hawthorn error and it just got worse from there as the Eagles swarmed.

At three minutes Brad Sheppard had a free kick and Liam Shiels handed the ball to him clumsily, meaning a 50m penalty and an easy goal.

The Eagles’ team defence went into top gear and they harassed the two-time reigning premiers.

The flawless skills that have defined Hawthorn’s prominence deserted them.

Ruckman Nic Naitanui, who missed the round-19 loss to Hawthorn to attend his mother’s funeral, was another huge factor.

Coleman Medallist Josh Kennedy kicked three second-term goals and West Coast kicked five in total.

Hawthorn could only manage one behind and trailled by 32 points at the main break.

The Hawks were always going to rally and the first goal of the third quarter meant they were back in the hunt.

But after several minutes of furious, scrambling play, Josh Hill snapped a superb goal – he finished with three – to restore West Coast’s five-goal lead.

After a quick Hawks reply, the Eagles surged again with four goals.

That killed off Hawthorn and West Coast led by 50 points at three-quarter time.

Hawks onballer Isaac Smith had minimal impact after being in doubt all week because of a knee injury.


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