When the West Coast’s all-time leading goal kicker failed to split the middle of near-blank range, you sensed it was always going to be a tough day for the Eagles.
Some commentators and fans even thought Josh Kennedy’s first-quarter deficit from Saturday’s clash with Adelaide summed up the 2022 campaign of the lowest-placed West Coast.
After Adelaide kicked the game’s first 32 points (5.2), the Eagles won a rare center clearance, pushing the ball deep in 50.
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Kennedy managed to get rid of Crows defender Tom Doedee, who hit the Adelaide Oval turf. But Kennedy dropped a simple undisputed mark—and when some Crows pressure hit the ground at the top of the goal square, he missed a simple snap and registered a behind.
It was the Eagles’ only score in the opening term and a good indication of the magnitude of their early battle.
“That sums up what we’ve seen from the West Coast Eagles so far this season — and the coach can’t believe what he’s seeing,” said Fox Footy commentator Mark Howard as bereaved Eagles coach Adam Simpson was shown holding his head in his hands .
Triple M commentator Bernie Vince said it “can’t get any worse than that,” while North legend Wayne Carey said of Kennedy, “He’s had a first-quarter mare.”
Key striker Jack Darling was able to ease the pressure on the Eagles at the start of the second term by kicking his side’s first goal of the game.
But Adelaide held the reins and until late in the third term, the Crows held a 46-point lead.
It sparked fears that West Coast would become the first team in the AFL era to have eight consecutive losses by more than 50 points — an “unwanted record,” according to Howard — and take over the 2013 Giants and 1995 Fitzroy. .
“I’m not sure Adam Simpson would know about the stats we’re talking about… but that would be motivating for the players,” Brownlow medalist Gerard Healy told Fox Footy. “They don’t want to be a part of this.
“Right now they’re holding on, it’s getting close, but they’re holding on.
“Sometimes when your pants are being pulled down, you need some outside motivation to talk about it. You can’t keep talking about the same things day in and day out when you’re being flogged.”
The Eagles have won just one game this season and have now lost 15 of their last 16 games.
“When is enough enough?” Brownlow medalist Mark Ricciuto early on Fox Footy. “The pressure is now on Adam Simpson.
“We know they’ve had Covid, we know they’ve had injuries and we know they were a great side with the grand final in 2018.
“When are they going to draft or trade players out to try to speed up rebuilding to try and get back to a dominant club as they have been for most of their history?”
Fortunately for Eagles fans, their team found some rhythm late in the game, kicking four unanswered goals in the third and fourth periods to ensure they didn’t ‘break’ that unwanted record.
Kennedy kicked a goal late in the fourth term to reduce Adelaide’s lead to 21 points.
But the Crows responded through Rory Laird and Jake Soligo, by a 31-point margin.
“I think they’ve laid a foundation for what might be the second half of the season,” Healy said of the Eagles’ fight in the second half.
“Much better effort, some young kids get to watch it a bit more.
“It doesn’t mean you can be sure of a win the next time they’re out, because their draw is pretty tough, but they’ve learned quite a bit about themselves today.”
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