WEST Coast is back on top for at least a day after beating Greater Western Sydney by 25 points at Spotless Stadium on Saturday, in a match that saw the home side's injury worries worsen.
The Eagles set up their 12.14 (86) to 8.13 (61) win – their seventh in a row – with a brilliant five-goal burst in the second term, with the rest of the match a tightly fought contest.
SEVEN STRAIGHT: Full match coverage and stats
Jack Darling's four majors – all in the first half opposed to Adam Tomlinson – proved the difference. The 25-year-old finished the day with 19 disposals and nine marks – five of those contested – and kicked 4.3 in an outstanding display.
West Coast coach Adam Simpson said his forward's performance was a continuation of his form this season.
OH DARLING: Five talking points
"He's been playing at a pretty high standard since I've been here, but definitely this season he's gone up a level," he said.
"With his maturity … he's got a wife and kids now and he's a bit more settled in his life now.
"He's in a leadership space now where he knows what he has to do for the team and he's got hands of steel at the moment – it's hard to break those hands.
"He's a really important player."
EAGLE BOOST: Stars could return for Tiger blockbuster
Andrew Gaff, Elliott Yeo and Jack Redden won plenty of ball through the midfield for the visitors and shared almost 90 possessions, while captain Shannon Hurn was again damaging across half-back.
The Giants lost Matt de Boer (hamstring) before half-time, before co-captain Phil Davis was knocked out after courageously running back into a pack in the third quarter, only to be collected by an accidental elbow from Darling.
Callan Ward was influential from the Giants in his 200th game, while fellow midfielders Stephen Coniglio, Tim Taranto and Lachie Whitfield worked hard in a losing cause.
WATCH: Darling's brave mark and goal
GWS coach Leon Cameron said the team's second straight loss was a massive disappointment given they held an advantage in the clearances (45-40), contested possessions (160-151) and tackles (76-73), and were almost even with the Eagles in the inside 50 count (53-55).
"Our effort wasn't there last week to the level it needed to be, but this week it clearly was," he said.
"But with AFL footy there's so many different components, you can't just crack in and win the contested ball and tackle well but kick it poorly.
"You've got to put it all together and we came up against a really in-form team like the Eagles and they're putting everything together at the moment, but we're not."
WATCH: Langdon's all class
The signs were ominous for the home side when Darling kicked the opening goal of the match less than two minutes in, and they led by 14 points midway through the quarter until two goals in two minutes to Jeremy Cameron and Ryan Griffen helped the Giants close the gap just before the break.
Some inspired finishing from Zac Langdon gave the Giants a three-point advantage just after quarter-time, and when Ward added another West Coast looked vulnerable, but Darling stepped in to turn the momentum of the match.
The Eagles banged on five in a row and the athletic forward booted three of them, with Tomlinson unable to match the West Perth product's aerial ability.
Darling's fourth from a strong contested mark gave the Eagles a game-high 18-point lead, before Daniel Lloyd finished off an end-to-end passage started by a brilliant pass from defence by Lachie Whitfield to give GWS a steadier deep into time-on.
WATCH: Giants stars combine
With de Boer not returning after half-time, the Giants' depth was tested further when Whitfield (cut shin) was forced to the rooms for repairs, but while he returned, Davis didn't after was helped from the field following his nasty collision.
The teams traded goals in the quarter and three apiece saw West Coast maintain their buffer to the tune of 13 points at the last change.
Both sides struggled to score in a dour last term before Jamie Cripps finally slotted one for the Eagles 15 minutes in, and star forward Josh Kennedy ended any hope of a GWS comeback when he nailed a set shot in time on to put West Coast 26 points up.
WATCH: Rioli's big stretch
Greater Western Sydney: De Boer played no part in the second half after hurting his left hamstring in the second quarter. Whitfield came off with a cut shin in the third term but returned and played out the match. Davis was knocked out by an accidental elbow from Darling during the third term and missed the rest of the game.
WATCH: Davis KO'd in marking contest
West Coast: The visitors looked to have got through their win unscathed.
The Giants head south to take on North Melbourne in Hobart on Saturday afternoon, while the Eagles are back at home premiers Richmond at Optus Stadium on Sunday.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 2.3 5.8 8.10 8.13 (61)
WEST COAST 2.5 7.7 10.11 12.14 (86)
Greater Western Sydney: Cameron 2, Griffen, Langdon, Ward, Lloyd, Taranto, Reid
West Coast: Darling 4, Waterman 3, Kennedy 2, Duggan, Rioli, Cripps
Greater Western Sydney: Ward, Taranto, Coniglio, Whitfield, Corr
West Coast: Redden, Darling, Gaff, Yeo, Hurn, Lycett, Sheppard
Greater Western Sydney: de Boer (hamstring), Davis (concussion), Whitfield (cut shin)
West Coast: Nil
Umpires: Gavine, Ryan, Fleer
Official crowd: 9253 at Spotless Stadium