Harley Reid celebrates a goal with teammates during West Coast's clash against Fremantle in round six, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

WEST Coast has emerged as the best groundball team in the AFL this season as back-to-back wins generate belief in a re-worked game style that is serving as the foundation for a rebuild.

The Eagles' stripped back gameplan – which focuses on manic pressure, contest, and front half footy – has clicked in impressive wins against Richmond and Fremantle as the team grows confident in its 2024 method.

Across the contest and front half footy elements of their plan, the Eagles have ranked top two in the AFL across all key indicators for rounds five and six, leading the competition for time in forward half.

Using a bigger sample size across the entire season, they have ranked top two for contested possessions, centre bounce clearances and groundballs.

General manager of football Gavin Bell said the players were growing confident in the game style while remaining aware that they have significant work to do as the club continues a rebuild.

"I think by keeping it simple and clear, the players and the coaching staff and the wider footy staff are really aligned on what we're going after, and we've been public in what we're doing," Bell told AFL.com.au.

Adam Simpson addresses the players during West Coast's clash against Fremantle in round six, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"It's about the contest, it's about trying to get the ball in our front half, and it's about our pressure. So a couple of those areas we're going well, one or two we've still got a fair bit of work to do.

"We understand we're nowhere near the finished product. We're seeing some signs of some improvement which we're all enjoying but we're also conscious of where we've got a lot of work to do to be the team that we want to become."

Eagles' wins - Contest




Contested Possessions









Points from Clearance




Eagles' wins - Territory




Inside 50s



Time in Fwd Half



Coach Adam Simpson and his panel re-designed the Eagles' game style as a foundation for the rebuild, knowing that they needed "smaller rocks" in place before they could move onto elements of the game like ball movement.

Highlighting the progress made under a new game style, the Eagles' groundball result against Richmond (+27) was their best result since 2017, while their contested possession win (+38) was their biggest since the 2018 premiership year.

The other trademark obvious in West Coast's recent spike has been its No.1 focus for this year: to play with passion.


It was evident when young star Harley Reid grabbed his jumper after kicking his first career goal in an improved performance against Sydney, and then constantly through back-to-back wins, notably when Reid stunned Fremantle with his memorable goals.

"We want to play with spirit. We've had it before, I've seen it in previous years, and that's the No.1 focus for us," Simpson told AFL.com.au during a pre-season interview.

Eagles' season strengths - Contest



Contested Possessions




CB Clearances


Points from CB Clearances 


Bell described Simpson's coaching this season as "really consistent", with the injection of young players and the changing make-up of the squad bringing new energy to the coach.

"He's keeping it relatively simple with what we're working on, and we're celebrating the small wins, but also making sure that anything that we need to address is getting addressed as well to try and help us with the bigger picture," Bell said.

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"His public messaging and internal messaging is really aligned, and I think the changing make-up of our squad is different with so many young kids, so that's brought a whole new energy to the entire department."

The pressure element of West Coast's game style has not been reflected statistically, with Bell highlighting tackling and tackling efficiency among the areas the Eagles were working to improve.

Harley Reid tackles Nat Fyfe during West Coast's win over Fremantle in round six, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

The team's ability to frequently win the ball when it is contested, however, is resulting in a lower pressure rating.

Tracing back the Eagles' improvement, Bell highlighted the players' ability to return from their off-season in excellent physical condition and their ability to cope with a high-intensity pre-season, which was led by first-year high-performance boss Mathew Inness.

The Eagles have also benefited in recent weeks from a mix of senior on-field leadership and youthful energy as Reid fronts a young pack of improving Eagles.

"Our senior players are investing into each other, but also into the younger playing group," Bell said.

Elliot Yeo and Harley Reid celebrate a goal during West Coast's clash against Richmond in round five, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

"The kids have brought an energy and an excitement to what we do. They love playing footy, they've become really good mates, there's a big group of them with the 22 under 22 that we started the pre-season with.

"So they're showing and generating some good spirit and they're well connected. I think that'll hold us in good stead because when there's challenges that will come up in every AFL season, that will help us continue to progress our way through."