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Five talking points: West Coast v Richmond

Highlights: West Coast v Richmond The Eagles and Tigers clash in round four
Mark LeCras was one of many Eagles in party mood - ${keywords}
Mark LeCras was one of many Eagles in party mood

1. Eagles put the game to bed early
It was a barnstorming start from a team that only fell at the final hurdle in 2015. In the first half they strangled Richmond, restricting the visitors to just eight inside 50s – a feat only achieved in the first half of an AFL game three times this millennium (and all three of them by Ross Lyon’s Fremantle team). Richmond made the most of their limited opportunities to kick three goals. Up the other end, West Coast went inside their 50m arc on 36 occasions, but kicked a wayward 10.13 for the half. If not for the poor kicking on goal, it would have been a perfect start for the home side. While the Eagles simply traded goals with Richmond in the second half, it was clear they had put their collective cue in their rack. The home supporters might have expected more against a team that was missing both its main ruckman (Ivan Maric) and its talismanic midfielder (Brett Deledio), not to mention the injuries suffered by backup ruckman Shaun Hampson and David Astbury, but West Coast finally signalled its intentions for 2016 with a dominant performance. Tests against the Sydney Swans and Geelong await them in the next three weeks.

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2. No Deledio, no Richmond. No Priddis, no problems
Much has been made of Richmond’s record when Brett Deledio has been out of the side. Since 2008, the star midfielder has missed 15 games through injury and Richmond has won just three of those – twice against the Brisbane Lions and once against Carlton, the latter victory coming in the club’s first game of 2016. It’s an unenviable record and Tigers fans will be desperate for him to come back into the side for next week’s game against Melbourne. Likewise, Eagles supporters will be eager to see ball magnet Matt Priddis return for next Saturday’s game against the Sydney Swans at the SCG. But West Coast has not fared badly in games Priddis hasn't played in. Since 2012, he has missed four games and West Coast have now won all of them, including last year’s qualifying final against eventual premiers Hawthorn.

Showreel: Eagle-eyed delivery cuts through Tigers

3. Should Ivan Maric have played?
Damien Hardwick decided not to risk Ivan Maric for the match against West Coast despite his ruckman having played about three-quarters of a VFL game in his comeback from injury last week. It was a decision he must have regretted. Going into the match, he would have been hoping Shaun Hampson could compete with Nic Naitanui and his understudy Scott Lycett, at least enough to blunt their influence. But an injury to Hampson’s left thigh made it almost impossible for him to even contest in the ruck, his limp becoming more noticeable as the first half wore on. Hampson didn’t take the field after half-time, leaving Ty Vickery as the lone Richmond ruckman. Needless to say, West Coast dominated in the ruck.

Tigers still aiming for finals

4. Lycett's moment of madness
Perhaps someone should tell the West Coast big man that throwing a jumper punch requires you to hit your target using the hand holding the jumper. Instead, Lycett had a handful of Vickery’s jumper with one hand and punched him with the other in the second quarter. The umpire was all of two metres away and had no hesitation in awarding a 50-metre penalty and reporting Lycett. It’s not often these days that a player blatantly punches another during a push-and-shove. And while coach Adam Simpson would likely be upset with his big charge, he might have to take some of the blame for this one. During the week, Simpson urged the West Coast crowd to get stuck into Vickery over an incident in 2014 in which he knocked Dean Cox unconscious. Still, that comment was aimed at the pro-Eagles crowd, not Lycett. 

 

5. Rioli the main link to history
It was West Coast’s big 30-year celebration and the fixture against Richmond was designed to honour the home side’s first ever VFL/AFL game back in 1987. But there were sadly no obvious familial connections between the side West Coast fielded in their first ever game and the side that took the field this weekend. Sure, Jamie Cripps is a cousin of Eagles original Chris Mainwaring, but Mainwaring didn’t play in the first game of 1987. The closest, and most obvious, connection was actually between players who wore yellow and black. Maurice Rioli had 27 possessions for Richmond in the 1987 game and his great nephew Daniel showed excellent poise around goals to kick a couple of majors from limited opportunities in the 30th anniversary game.