Eagles narrowly avoid embarrassment

Eagle Xavier Ellis crunches the Suns’ Jarrod Garlett.        Picture: Dan White
Eagles narrowly avoid embarrassment
Eagle Xavier Ellis crunches the Suns’ Jarrod Garlett.        Picture: Dan White

The young Suns outfit, a shell of their full-strength squad, looked headed for an unlikely triumph having led for the majority of the match, save for a brief period in the second term.

But in the dying minutes, Eagles swingman Jeremy McGovern marked just inside 50 and kicked truly to give the Eagles the winning lead.

West Coast clawed back an 18-point last-quarter deficit to triumph 0.7.13 (55) to 1.6.7 (52) in front of 5021 spectators; significantly down on the 10,373 fans who witnessed West Coast beat Fremantle in the pre-season contest in Joondalup two years ago.

While conditions on that occasion were sunny and perfect for football, the blustery breeze this time around caused ball movement issues and made for a scrappy contest.

West Coast (55 I50s) was particularly wasteful, heading inside 50 more than twice as many times as Gold Coast (25) but taking just nine marks to the Suns’ seven.

Eagles star recruit Lewis Jetta showed electric signs in eight first-quarter disposals with some slick movement through heavy traffic but left the ground injured early in the second term and did not return.

Supporters cheered the return of champion defender Eric Mackenzie from a knee reconstruction, as the ball found its way into his area early in the first quarter.

But his first kick in a competitive environment in more than a year was one for the bloopers reel when it fell awkwardly off the boot and rolled clumsily along the turf.

Mackenzie had his hands full with man-mountain Peter Wright, who kicked two goals in the first term, including the side’s opener just after the 11-minute mark.

Though as the clash wore on, Mackenzie produced flashes of his renowned defensive strength, he played just 39 per cent of the match.

He made it through the game and that’s all that mattered.

It took a sloppy West Coast unit 23 minutes to get its first goal when Jamie Bennell, again looking comfortable in his experimental role up forward, centred from deep in the pocket to Mark LeCras, who finished in characteristically silky fashion.

With 25 disposals and two goals, LeCras had claims as West Coast’s best player, though he too was not at his sharpest with three behinds and, in the last quarter, an out- of-bounds on the full from directly in front.

Former Swan Districts player Ryan Davis kicked two goals for the Suns playing in the familiar surrounds of Arena Joondalup, where he troubled West Perth opponents during his time in the WAFL.