WEST Coast has celebrated the unfurling of its premiership flag in style, bouncing back from a first-up loss to beat Greater Western Sydney by 52 points at Optus Stadium on Saturday night.
On a night that saw skipper Shannon Hurn, champion forward Josh Kennedy and midfielder Chris Masten celebrate milestones, the Eagles soaked up an early challenge from the Giants before kicking away to win 16.8 (104) to 7.10 (52).
With a rematch of last year's epic Grand Final looming against a red-hot Collingwood next Saturday night at the MCG, it was an important win that steadied the Eagles' premiership defence.
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Norm Smith medallist Luke Shuey was the catalyst, with the midfielder breaking the game open in the second quarter with 11 possessions and two brilliant long-range goals.
The star Eagle finished with 28 possessions and seven inside 50s, with Grand Final hero Dom Sheed (28, five inside 50 and a goal) providing excellent support in the midfield to continue his special run of form.
Perhaps most important for West Coast, however, was the forward combination of Jack Darling and exciting youngster Oscar Allen, who combined for seven goals and benefited from the return of Kennedy in his 200th game for the Eagles.
Allen, who made his debut as a defender against GWS in round 16 last year, returned to torment the Giants as a forward on Saturday night, marking strongly above his head and kicking three goals to go with Darling's four.
With a functioning forward line, the Eagles' ball movement was back and they made the most of their opportunities in attack, kicking a winning score despite losing the inside 50s 62-47.
Coach Adam Simpson would also have been encouraged by the performance of ruck recruit Tom Hickey, who combined well with Nathan Vardy in the ruck and marked strongly around the ground.
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The former Saint took a game-high five contested marks, with West Coast dominating the aerial battle to take 20 contested grabs to just eight.
Jeremy McGovern took four of his game-high 11 marks in contests, marshalling a rock-solid backline before Giant Nick Haynes was sent to him in the second half in an accountable role.
The Giants, who beat Essendon by 72 points in round one, held their own early, with classy midfielder Lachie Whitfield (33 possessions and seven inside 50s) setting the tone with his run and penetrating ball use.
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But with stars Josh Kelly (hip/knee) and Toby Greene (calf) missing, the Giants' depth was tested and Whitfield lacked support.
West Coast tagger Mark Hutchings went to Stephen Coniglio and shut down the prolific Giant, who finished with 20 possessions after amassing 31 and three goals in round one.
Jeremy Cameron was the visitors' only multiple goalkicker, booting three goals, while hard-nosed midfielder Jacob Hopper led the way at the coalface with 21 possessions and eight clearances.
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West Coast: Liam Duggan left the ground with a knee injury in the first quarter but returned to play out the match, with coach Adam Simpson saying he will be assessed this week.
Greater Western Sydney: Co-captain Phil Davis was poked in the eye late in the fourth quarter and had blurred vision, finishing the match on the bench. Fellow defender Sam Taylor was cramping in both hamstrings late and was taken from the ground as a precaution.
West Coast returns to the MCG for the first time since last year's premiership to take on Collingwood in the Grand Final rematch on Saturday night. The Giants host a wounded Richmond at Giants Stadium on Saturday.
WEST COAST 2.3 8.4 12.5 16.8 (104)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 1.3 3.6 6.10 7.10 (52)
West Coast: Darling 4, Allen 3, Shuey 2, Hutchings, Hickey, Kennedy, Sheed, Yeo, Petruccelle, Smith
Greater Western Sydney: Cameron 3, Daniels, Williams, Reid, Haynes
West Coast: Shuey, Sheed, Darling, McGovern, Hickey, Yeo, Allen, Sheppard
Greater Western Sydney: Whitfield, Hopper, Tomlinson, Williams, Haynes
West Coast: Duggan (knee)
Greater Western Sydney: Davis (eye)
Umpires: Dalgleish, Hay, Gavine
Official crowd: 54,985 at Optus Stadium