ADAM Simpson insists West Coast's back-to-back premiership bid is "still alive" after the Eagles' flag hopes took a potentially catastrophic hit in a 38-point loss to Hawthorn.
Needing to win at home to secure a finals double chance, the Eagles fluffed their lines badly against a tougher and slicker opponent.
Only eight days after they sat two wins clear inside the top four with two rounds remaining, the Eagles have tumbled to fifth.
Not much went right for Adam Simpson and the Eagles on Saturday night. Picture: AFL Photos
Consecutive defeats to Richmond and Hawthorn means they need Brisbane to pull off a huge upset against the Tigers at their MCG stronghold on Sunday to climb back up the ladder.
Otherwise, West Coast is facing the prospect of a cutthroat elimination final and would have to become the first non-Victorian team to reach the Grand Final after missing the top four under the current finals system.
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Simpson conceded the Eagles' inconsistent brand of football wasn't good enough to impact September if they didn't improve, but insisted they could defy history to snare an unlikely flag from fifth.
"How confident? Yeah, well of course (we can). Probably if you miss top four, this is the one loss you can have is today," Simpson said.
"We've got to win four in a row, I suppose. But I haven't thought that deeply about it.
"This is a missed opportunity tonight, we're really disappointed.
"The way we played is not going to stand up in finals, so we've got to play better.
"We've got some work to do but we're still alive. We're trying to find the balance with our players, supporters and members.
"We're going to have a good shake at it."
With the Eagles' destiny out of their hands, all Simpson could do was wear his "Brissie scarf" on Sunday.
He lamented a breakdown in fundamentals as the Hawks thrashed West Coast at the contest (+14) and kicked 16 goals against a leaky backline.
Simpson was adamant he would keep backing defender Tom Barrass after two shaky performances.
Barrass' dropped mark in the second quarter led to a Luke Breust goal which kick-started a game-turning burst of five of the next six goals for Hawthorn.
"He hasn't let me down too often, and our players and our club," Simpson said.
"You look at all the things he does well and you've got to improve too and be honest.
"But he's a fine young player and I'm going to keep backing him in."
Simpson wasn't sure how severe Brad Sheppard's rib injury was, although the backman came back on after receiving treatment in the second term.
Sheppard has the pre-finals bye to recover, while star ruckman Nic Naitanui should return in the opening round in September.
"He's definitely one of our best players, if not our best, so if we get him back that's good for us," Simpson said.