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West Coast power scorches Kangaroos

WEST COAST 7.4 11.8 15.11 24.18 (162)
0.3 2.8 8.10 9.12 (66)
GOALS West Coast: Embley 4, Darling 4, Kennedy 4, Lynch 3, Masten, Cox, Kerr, MacKenzie, Hill, Shuey, Naitanui, McGinnity, Hurn. North Melbourne: Harvey 3, Campbell 3, Cunnington, Petrie, Hansen.
BEST West Coast: Embley, Kerr, Priddis, Glass, Cox, Darling, Kennedy, S Selwood. North Melbourne: Swallow, Ziebell, Cunnington.
UMPIRES C Donlon, S McBurney, S Jeffery.
CROWD 41,790, at Subiaco.
PETER HANLON'S VOTES Embley 8, Kerr 8, Priddis 8, Cox 8, Glass 7

TEAMS aren't supposed to cross the continent and obliterate a more fancied opponent inside a final's first quarter, as Fremantle had done to Geelong the previous night. This was the football world righted.

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West Coast smashes North Melbourne by 96 points in Perth to set up a tantalising semi-final against Collingwood next Saturday.

Any prospect that North Melbourne could conjure its own travelling miracle vanished within half an hour of Andrew Swallow leading his team blinking into the Subiaco sun. This was Perth's hottest day since summer - 29 degrees at the first bounce - and the Kangaroos walked into a furnace.

The result had nothing to do with the conditions - the west has been so wintry that Nic Naitanui was pictured on the front page of the paper during the week holding a handful of hailstones he'd picked up off his front lawn - and everything to do with a finals-ready team meeting an opponent that went miserably stale after beating Collingwood in round 21.

The Roos, the play-on junkies, were run off their feet. Andrew Embley was chased down by Andrew Swallow on the first forward thrust of the day, but all the visitors looked like catching henceforth was heat stroke.

Brad Scott rightly noted that they'd been beaten at their own game. ''Transition's been a great part of our second part of the year - very rarely have teams been able to get the ball out of our forward line and run the length of the ground as the Eagles did today.''


His players were, Scott said, ''deers in the headlights'' at times. ''It only takes one to slip out of the loop.'' He mentioned Embley, Andrew Gaff and Luke Shuey as exemplars; all three at some stage found themselves in a paddock of space, careered away, and made the Roos pay in a manner that has been their template.

''We've been doing that to the opposition for a fair while now,'' Scott added. ''We got beaten at our own game. We got beaten by weight of numbers.''

On the ''inside'', the Roos competed manfully; Swallow, Jack Ziebell and Ben Cunnington's effort and output were glaring in comparison to many teammates. But everywhere else was a loss; even after mustering a six-goal third quarter - perhaps as much a function of the Eagles being mindful of the black-and-white mission ahead as any colour the Kangaroos added to a bleak palette - they were put back in their box by an opponent not prepared to concede anything. West Coast slammed on eight in the last, stretching the final margin to its most bloated all day.

The first quarter was a massacre. Jack Darling went to the first break with seven kicks, five marks and three goals from five scoring shots to his name. North had scrounged just 11 marks in total, none of them contested. They trailed the Eagles by 43 points and Darling alone by 17.

There was no breeze, yet all was blowing West Coast's way. Embley pulled a set shot from 50 metres out on the full, but when Naitanui marked the returning free kick and handballed backwards to him, he hammered it home off one step from 60. When allowed to run hard in attack, Embley can still resemble a younger, Norm Smith medallist version of himself.

Darling kicked one from the boundary line, then got ridiculously free on a West Coast rebound, bounced three times through half forward and slotted another. Eric MacKenzie left Drew Petrie, snuck forward, marked in the pocket and kicked his first goal in his 78th game of AFL football.

Other than a burst of energy when it no longer mattered, Daniel Wells was back in the team in name only. Lindsay Thomas was rendered invisible by Sam Butler, Lachie Hansen was strangled by Darren Glass, Robbie Tarrant wasn't noticed, either before or after he was subbed out of the game.

Brent Harvey finished his 17th season missing a goal he would normally kick in his sleep - but to be fair he kicked three and was far from his team's worst - and being jeered off the ground after lashing out at Daniel Kerr just before the three-quarter time siren.

Todd Goldstein could not shake off his recent struggles, nor land a decisive blow in the most unfair of fights against Dean Cox and Naitanui.

Even when the latter camped deep in the forward line after another display of tap work that blended athleticism and art, Cox fed Matthew Priddis and Kerr as if intravenously.

The most pleasant of Sundays for West Coast was disturbed only by a foot injury likely to end veteran leader Beau Waters' season. Quinten Lynch's clattering of Scott McMahon amid the first-quarter carnage is bound to attract attention at today's video review; in keeping with the tenor of the day, the Eagle's knee spearing into the back-pedalling Roos' ribs did not even draw a 50-metre penalty.

It was that sort of day for North, when the tank ran dry.


Quarter 1
Some hard tackling and tight play in the first couple of minutes from both teams looked to set up a tight contest. North got the first score, but it was all West Coast from there. It took eight minutes for the Eagles to score a major, but then the floodgates opened. It took more than 20 minutes for the Roos to register their second behind. When defender Mackenzie marked a wobbling Naitanui floater and scored his first goal in AFL footy, it was clear the day belonged to West Coast. Eagles by 43.

Quarter 2
North Melbourne showed more intensity at the start of the second quarter, but it could not capitalise, kicking several points before the Eagles broke away again with nice goals to Lynch and then Embley. The Roos finally registered a major when Matthew Campbell ran onto a loose ball and in to goal at the 18-minute mark. Even though the Eagles lost Beau Waters with an Achilles injury, they did not miss a beat, scoring two more goals before the Kangaroos could notch their second. Eagles by 54.

Quarter 3

North began the third quarter well, with a goal to Hansen. The Eagles responded quickly, but again the Roos scored another, only to blow an opportunity to go back to back when Swallow missed on the run shortly after. Two quick goals to Embley looked to end North's mini comeback but the Roos persevered, ending the quarter with three unanswered goals. A miss by Gibson at 24 minutes, from 30 metres out and almost directly in front of goal, summed up the afternoon for the Roos. Eagles by 43.

Quarter 4

West Coast came out in the last quarter looking to finish things quickly and would have scored in seconds had Shuey's kick been on target. It mattered little though as the Eagles kicked the next three goals before Harvey even got a look in for the Roos. His first shot missed, but he was set up by Swallow for a goal at 11 minutes. After that the Roos hardly seemed to touch the ball and it was party time for the Eagles as they stacked on 6.6 in a crushing win. Eagles by 96. - CLAIRE SIRACUSA


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