A soar and a stumble: why the Eagles victory over the Suns poses more questions than answers.

The West Coast Eagles got the job done over Gold Coast on Saturday night, but their performance was anything but convincing…well for one half at least.

At half time, Eagles fans and the rest of the football world could have been forgiven for believing that the blue birds were back to their best.

The potency of their forward half had started to fire again, the run and carry football which was so crucial to their premiership success looked to be back on song. The Eagles headed to the sheds with a seven goal lead, and going off their performance in the second half, it seemed as if a fair portion of their team forgot they had two more quarters of AFL football left to play.

The Mongrel looks at a contest which looked to set to deliver, yet ultimately disappointed, petering into a game so bad you could have been excused for switching channels to watch the A-League instead.

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First Half

The Eagles had an absolute shocker in Geelong last week, and they hit the opening stages of their game against the Suns with intent, hunger and passion. Josh Kennedy fired through their first couple of goals, and the Suns midfield could not keep pace with their opposition counter-parts, with Sheed, Shuey and Yeo all running amuck from a central point of view. Despite this, the Suns managed to keep in touch up until the quarter time siren, with the Eagles leading by just 15 points.

The second term saw the Eagles show glimpses of why they won their fourth flag last year. I use the word ‘glimpses’ deliberately, as the consistent firepower of the West Coast midfield and forward brigade just wasn’t there for the duration of the game. Gut running, transition football and a bollocking Jack Darling made up the highlights before half time.

Lewis Jetta’s pinpoint kicking set-up a plethora of scoring opportunities for the home side, with Darling the greatest beneficiary of the fast pace brand of attack, an irregularity of the Eagles side this year.

Speaking of Darling, is the Eagles power forward the competition’s most maligned and polarising player? He would have to go close after this performance. His first half was poetry in motion – it was Darling at his absolute best. Clunking marks and booting goals, three of them in fact, the big man was set for a night out after an impressive first half. We’ll get to his second half soon…

For the Suns, their first two quarters composed a mix of errors and inefficient ball movement, as well as poor and bewildering defensive efforts. I’m not a huge fan of Jason Dunstall, nor his commentary, but he was absolutely correct in calling out the laziness of the Suns back-half. There were several instances when the Eagles were moving the ball through the midfield and the likes of Jack Hombsch and George Horlin-Smith left their direct opponents in an attempt to quell the forward entry. Their efforts were so poor they didn’t even impact the contest, allowing both Darling and Kennedy to stroll in and kick one goal each respectively. Their midfield was equally poor, with the likes of David Swallow and Will Powell failing to have any impact on the contest. But alas, there are two halves in football, and the Suns made amends in the second of this match.

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Second Half

Wow… if a week is a long time in football, then a half is even longer. Or perhaps for West Coast, a half is just too long?

The second half of this Saturday night contest was so poor and woeful, I fail to remember a match which could come close to matching it. Let’s be frank, the Gold Coast Suns didn’t almost clinch an unlikely victory of their own accord. They were aided by an Eagles outfit who looked shot and disinterested.

It should have been a percentage boosting half for the Eagles, yet it turned out to be a match saving one. What the hell has happened to last year’s golden boys?

It’s a question I am struggling to answer myself.

Andrew Gaff racked up 35 disposals… but how effective was he?

Jack Darling booted four goals…but how impactful was he in the second half?

Chris Masten did nothing… so will the Eagles continue to do nothing and keep him in the team?

Nathan Vardy was poor, again… so will he be back in the reserves if Hickey returns next week?

The Eagles went into defensive mode, again… are they lacking confidence or is it something else?

To the Suns credit, they picked up their own game and started to hit targets (albeit, while still missing targets at will with horrific ball use…) Alex Sexton was quiet, and when his influence is quashed, the same can usually be said for his teammates. Jack Martin was good, very good indeed, just imagine how good he would actually be if he played for a half decent football team.

It was fitting that the final result was sealed by a Jack Darling major. Who else would pop up and do something important after showing nothing for a whole second half of football?

I, along with all football fans alike, can only hope there are no more games like this left to endure this season.

Eagles fans would have been tearing their hair out, and rightly so. With such a talented team, it’s embarrassing that last year’s premiers couldn’t put two good halves of football together.

Gold Coast fans… well the few of them left… would have been watching with disgust again as their team yet again failed to kick a decent score.

The Eagles play the Saints next week, and it’s a matchup which will be intriguing to observe. If they can knock off St Kilda on the road next week, then maybe, just maybe, the Eagles will be on the road to redemption as they seek to recapture their form of last year.

For the Suns, they’ll be hoping for a victory against a Demons outfit which has failed to show much this season… what an entertaining contest that looms to be.

I know, I know… this article has been sporadic and somewhat confusing to follow… but in some respects it is a fitting symbol of a match which was simply bizarre, boring and frankly, confusing.

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