No. 1 is where the Eagles were before yesterday's game, and No. 1 is where they remain. Goalkicker Shannon Hurn enjoys the moment. Photo: Getty Images
WEST COAST 4.4 7.10 12.15 17.18 (120)
NORTH MELBOURNE 4.0 7.2 12.2 15.5 (95)
Goals: West Coast: J Hill 4 L Shuey 2 S Hurn 2 A Hams B Sheppard C Masten D Cox J Darling M Rosa Q Lynch S Lycett S Selwood. North Melbourne: B Cunnington 3 B Harvey 2 J MacMillan 2 A Edwards C Pedersen D Petrie D Wells J Ziebell K Harper L Thomas S Wright.
Best: West Coast: S Selwood S Hurn J Hill D Cox M Priddis. North Melbourne: A Swallow L Adams J MacMillan D Wells B Cunnington.
Umpires: Troy Pannell, Luke Farmer, Matthew Leppard.
Crowd: 37,202 at Subiaco.
West Coast remains the only unbeaten team in the AFL after coming out 17.18 (120) to 15.5 (95) winners in a Sunday afternoon struggle against dogged North Melbourne at Patersons Stadium.
A week after somehow beating Richmond, John Worsfold's men overcame the loss of more big names and big bodies to take their record to 6-0 in 2012, a game ahead of Sydney, Carlton, Adelaide and Essendon.
Young Eagle Scott Selwood led his team with a brilliant all-round display, while Josh Hill kicked four goals as Andrew Swallow and Ben Cunnington were similarly impressive for the visitors, who battled bravely but could not generate enough pressure to puncture West Coast's perfect start.
Following the Swans' shock loss to Adelaide on Saturday night, the Eagles had the chance to open up an early-season buffer at the top of the AFL ladder.
But they were forced to do without Nic Naitanui, who withdrew late with a sore hamstring.
That left their normally giant line-up cut down to size and perhaps left Brad Scott regretting not reinstating ruckman Todd Goldstein into his 22.
In his 50th game as a senior coach, Scott had formulated a counter-attacking plan which consistently caught out the forward-thinking Eagles early, leading to seven goals from their first seven scoring shots all coming from turnovers.
Scott's men led with seconds to go in the first term until a free kick for high tackle - rapidly becoming an Eagles trademark - allowed Luke Shuey to give the home side a narrow lead at the first change.
Ex-Bulldog Hill was further enhancing his reputation with a lively display, while Jamie Macmillan was doing his best to negate the influence of Andrew Gaff while inflicting damage himself with two goals.
As North's shooting accuracy grew, so did belief with Daniel Wells streaking away for the visitors sixth and Lindsay Thomas following it with another deadly finish from another Eagles turnover.
But with North Melbourne spending increasing time in defence, the screws were being tightened by the league leaders and, after a succession of misses, Shannon Hurn and the ever-improving Selwood finally found reward for effort.
Ashton Hams flying bump on Swallow provided a contentious end to the first half and the Eagles made a move early in the second with successive goals.
But North hit back with three of their own as momentum continued to swing.
As Adam Selwood left the ground with an agonising hand injury, the Eagles replied through Shannon Hurn, Hill and Matt Rosa, setting up an intriguing finish.
With the gap at 13 points to the start the final term, the Eagles finally squeezed the life out of the Kangaroos with Hill's fourth and Dean Cox's first, the win setting up a blockbuster with high-flying Essendon next Saturday.