WEST Coast has snapped a three-game losing streak and won its place back inside the top eight with a 42-point victory over Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on Sunday evening.
While it may not have been the performance of a team in the mix to go all the way this season, the 14.14 (98) to 8.8 (56) triumph was enough to provide a glimmer of hope for Adam Simpson's side as it strengthened its finals chances and rose to seventh place on the ladder.
CROWS v EAGLES Full match coverage and stats
It was a five-goal-to-two third term that helped set up the Eagles' ninth win, with Jamie Cripps and Jack Petruccelle able to put the finishing touches on the dominant work of Nic Naitanui, Andrew Gaff and Tim Kelly in the middle of the ground that the Crows were unable to match.
Naitanui was a dominant force at the stoppages in his 200th match, with the star big man helping the Eagles to a 14-8 advantage at the centre clearances and a 60-44 edge in the inside 50 count that Cripps in particular was able to make the most of.
The former Saint stepped up in the absence of late withdrawal Josh Kennedy (calf) to finish with five goals and 25 disposals, while livewire Liam Ryan (three goals) and Petruccelle (two) chipped in when required.
Gaff was the leading ball-winner for the Eagles with 34 disposals, while key mids Tim Kelly (26) and Elliot Yeo (23 touches and eight clearances) gained some confidence as the Eagles won for the first time in a month.
The only piece of bad news for the Eagles was that Luke Shuey again injured his troublesome calf, with the inspirational skipper substituted out in the fourth quarter and seen with ice on the affected area.
The Crows tried hard and were led well by Rory Laird (34 disposals), Ben Keays (30) and Paul Seedsman (27), but the weight of numbers eventually told as the more experienced Eagles flexed their muscle to prevail.
Defence dominated attack early on in the contest, with Taylor Walker's presence up forward the difference as the veteran slotted the only goal of the opening term as the Crows shot out to a six-point advantage at quarter-time.
Jack Darling snapped a beauty to get the Eagles rolling early in the second and, when Cripps kicked two in a minute shortly after, the visitors were out to a two-goal lead.
But Darcy Fogarty kicked truly on two occasions - including a beauty from outside 50 on an acute angle - as the Crows closed to within two points at the main break.
Cripps kicked two goals in succession early in the third and Ryan sprung to life shortly after as the Eagles upped the ante to lead by 23 points heading into the final quarter.
It was all one-way traffic during the fourth quarter as Cripps snapped through a ripper from the boundary for his fifth and Oscar Allen hit the scoreboard with his first to put the final stamp on a dominant second half.
No Kennedy, no worries for Eagles
The Eagles spearhead was a late withdrawal with a calf injury, but his absence was hardly felt as the likes of Jamie Cripps, Liam Ryan and Jack Petruccelle combined for 10 majors and made their presence felt without the veteran alongside them. It was just the third game that Kennedy has missed in 2021 and surprisingly the Eagles have a winning 2-1 record without the key forward in their side this season.
Re-jigged Crows' forward line still a work in progress
Matthew Nicks made a big call at selection by recalling Taylor Walker, Tom Lynch, Elliott Himmelberg and Darcy Fogarty to face the Eagles, but the new-look forward line didn't really gel. Lynch showed his class to finish with 27 disposals in his usual linking role, while Fogarty once again showed glimpses of brilliance mixed in with moments of frustrating play. But Walker and Elliott Himmelberg struggled to make much of an impact, despite the fact the duo managed a goal apiece.
Rivalry renewed for high-class big men
Reilly O'Brien and Nic Naitanui have had a well-documented past and it was the Eagles big man in his 200th game who took the honours in their ongoing rivalry with yet another dominant performance. Naitanui edged the hitout count 31-27, but it was his work at the centre clearances that made the difference as the Eagles veteran helped himself to eight clearances in his 200th appearance.
ADELAIDE 1.3 4.4 6.6 8.8 (56)
WEST COAST 0.3 4.6 9.9 14.14 (98)
Adelaide: Fogarty 2, Keays 2, Lynch, Walker, Himmelberg, Schoenberg
West Coast: Cripps 5, Ryan 3, Petruccelle 2, Darling, Yeo, Allen, Williams
Adelaide: Keays, Laird, Seedsman, Lynch, Kelly, Schoenberg
West Coast: Cripps, Yeo, Naitanui, Gaff, Hurn, Kelly
Adelaide: Murray (concussion)
West Coast: Kennedy (calf) replaced in selected side by Williams, Shuey (calf)
Adelaide: Sholl (replaced Murray)
West Coast: Nelson (replaced Shuey)
Crowd: 24,554 at Adelaide Oval