The Eagles' Mark Hutchings celebrates a goal. Picture: Getty
The Eagles' Mark Hutchings celebrates a goal. Picture: Getty

Eagles condemn Demons to preliminary final hell

IT was a whole season's work razed in just 30 minutes.

The new Melbourne bursting with hope produced a performance straight out of their many years spent in football hell.

What the hell happened? Pre-game Max Gawn pressed play on a Gang of Youths hit, hoping some change-room tunes would settle any nerves.

They didn't. And these Demons weren't let down easy, as those indie rockers sang.

Instead, the soundtrack of this preliminary final massacre was the deafening screams from West Coast fans.

There were few pauses between raucous cheers because there were few moments their team wasn't in total domination.

Angus Brayshaw gets a kick away under pressure. Picture: Michael Klein
Angus Brayshaw gets a kick away under pressure. Picture: Michael Klein

Every Demon will have nightmares about this 66-point smashing.

At quarter-time the margin was a flattering 29 points and three minutes later it was beyond 40. Good night.

The spookiest part was Melbourne's meek beginning.

Jordan Lewis whacked Willie Rioli off the ball to give the Eagles the first shot on goal. Then, Lewis handballed directly to Josh Kennedy, who booted the first of his four majors.

It was a sloppy goal assist from a bloke playing in his seventh preliminary final. At quarter-time Nathan Jones, Michael Hibberd and Gawn had a combined three kicks.

Seventeen Demons hadn't laid a tackle. West Coast didn't waste time going through the wings. The Eagles romped it through the corridor and cut Melbourne to shreds.

The 2600 Dees fans who forked out thousands of dollars to witness this must feel short-changed. Can they get a refund?

Liam Ryan takes a big pack mark. Picture: Michael Klein
Liam Ryan takes a big pack mark. Picture: Michael Klein

So much talk centred on the Demons' supposed superior midfield. Boy, wasn't that misguided.

The Eagles won the contested ball count by 15 and swarmed on several turnovers as Melbourne melted under the Perth sun.

The key to victory was supposed to be limiting supply. Bollocks. The Demons led the inside 50m count at the final change.

At half-time the Eagles' backline had kept a clean sheet, Melbourne becoming the first team to endure a goalless half in a final since Richmond in the 1927 decider.

But Collingwood's 2.13 (25) to 1.7 (13) grand final victory 91 years ago suggests that was a vastly different game.

Melbourne's half-time score of six behinds was its lowest since 2009.

Fancy serving up your worst first half of footy in nine years in your biggest game in 18 years?

When the Eagles' Jamie Cripps jogged into an open goal, after Luke Shuey dispossessed and then danced around Angus Brayshaw in the centre, his teammates were hugging in celebration long before he kicked it.

West Coast's Josh Kennedy marks over Melbourne's Sam Weideman in last week's preliminary final. Picture: Michael Klein
West Coast's Josh Kennedy marks over Melbourne's Sam Weideman in last week's preliminary final. Picture: Michael Klein

Mark LeCras' first goal for thd Eagles was accidental, the Sherrin grazing the back of his heel. Then, Melbourne's Alex Neal-Bullen finally broke free at half-back - and accidentally ran out of bounds.

It was that sort of day. The Eagles are now 12-0 this year when twin towers Kennedy and Jack Darling play together.

On Saturday they combined for 7.3. Melbourne's first good look at the sticks came halfway through the second quarter, when Clayton Oliver ran to 45m and hit the post.

One of the biggest cheers came five minutes later when Charlie Spargo squirted a simple set-shot wide and Eagles fans sensed a perfect half was coming.

Forget the four goals Melbourne added in the first half of the third quarter

The facial expressions at the final change - Gawn one of five Demons staring at the ground - told the story.

It was junk time. And that was a rubbish end to a bloody good season.



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