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Eagles triumph over Lions through late Hutchings goal

WEST COAST 3.2 5.3 9.5 11.10 (76) BRISBANE LIONS 1.1 4.3 6.6 9.10 (64)
Goals: West Coast: A Smith 2 J McGovern 2 L Shuey 2 M LeCras 2 J Darling M Hutchings P McGinnity. Brisbane Lions: A McGrath 2 J Green 2 D Merrett J Patfull L Taylor R Harwood S Mayes.
Best: West Coast: Shuey, McGovern, Ellis, Masten, McKenzie, Le Cras. Brisbane Lions: Harwood, Golby, Zorko, Mayes, Green, Martin
Umpires: Robert Findlay, Matthew Leppard, Brendan Hosking.
Official Crowd: 13,610 at Gabba.

It was a clash between two outfits looking to the future and ultimately it was West Coast that prevailed - albeit only after a gritty final-quarter charge from the Lions was thwarted by a brilliant Mark Hutchings goal at the Gabba on Saturday night.

The Eagles won 11.10 (76) to 9.10 (64) in an uninspiring clash in front of 13,610 fans.

The win moves West Coast to within eight points of the top eight but coach Adam Simpson will know his side needs to improve greatly if it is to qualify for the finals.

The Lions had remained undeterred despite a glut of wasted set shots in the last term, and closed to within a kick when Josh Green kicked truly heading into time on. But Hutchings' work in evading Sam Mayes was sublime, and his finish from the pocket quashed the Lions' hopes.

Early proceedings were staid and played at a snail's pace. It look Luke Shuey to lift the tempo, and by quarter time he had stamped himself as the best player on the ground in a showing capped off by two goals.


Ash McGrath benefited from a welcome goal-mouth bounce to kick the opening goal of the second stanza, but Jeremy McGovern marked strongly to put through his second major, and soon after Patrick McGinnity added another for the visitors.

Things looked grim for the home team. Eric Mackenzie had made light work of greater threats than Daniel Merrett. But a fast break afforded him an opportunity and McGrath then popped one through from a tight angle. With Ryan Harwood providing run and Mitch Golby on song, the Lions were within seven points at the long change.

West Coast threatened soon after the return, but the excitable Josh Green converted for the first goal of the second half. Mark Le Cras soon kicked a steadier, built upon the foundation of another powerful McGovern grab. McGinnity's pressure soon forced a turnover and Le Cras capitalised to kick another. The latter was having an influence and his accommodating handball over the top set up the second of a pair of Ash Smith goals, giving the Eagles a buffer of 17 points heading for home.

After a tense opening to the final term Lewis Taylor put one through on the run. The Lions were finishing well, and with Dayne Zorko and Sam Mayes spreading effectively the hosts had the better of general play, yet were unable to finish.

"I don't think it was pretty, but we dug deep," Simpson said. "It's a bit of a relief. (After a) six-day break, we made six changes, (with) probably our youngest side of the year, so I'm really pleased we got the job done.

"It was a pretty even game. It would have looked scrappy and we were a bit shaky there towards the end, but we found a way.

"I wasn't happy at half time (and) it started with our rucks," Simpson said.

"We played a tall side so we needed an advantage in that area. If you can't get that we're behind.

"They stood up our rucks in the second half, gave our mids first possession and from there the ball came."

With aap