What happened?

It was the match-winning play. With the Eagles trailing by two points and two-and-a-half minutes remaining on the clock, the Magpies sent the ball inside their forward 50. But Jeremy McGovern and the Eagles had other ideas. 

The vital key back soared to take a high-flying mark and start the chain that led to Dom Sheed's brilliant goal from the boundary line that gave the Eagles the win.

Knowing time was at a premium, McGovern quickly spotted up Nathan Vardy with a pass on the wing. Vardy moved things along swiftly as well, kicking to a contest on the half-forward flank where Liam Ryan lived up to his 'Flyin' Ryan' nickname by completing another big grab.

WHO FLEW HIGHEST? Every Eagle rated from the Grand Final

Three marks in a row became four when Ryan coolly spotted an open Sheed in the forward pocket. Pinned against the boundary line, Sheed went back and slotted the goal to give his side a four-point lead with 1:47 on the clock.

It was the last goal of an epic Grand Final and Sheed's kick was the difference, making him an instant hero. But it was McGovern's mark that started the play.

Who made it happen?

All four of the key players were significant in the Eagles' victory and premiership season. It was fitting that it started with McGovern, because so much of what West Coast does starts with McGovern.

He is their talisman, a three-time All Australian whose influence lies not only in the numbers – he is the competition's best intercept defender – but he also brings the intangibles such as a surety in the back half that settles everyone around him and breeds confidence in others.  

But McGovern’s place in the Grand Final was far from assured, entering the game in doubt after a hip injury had kept him off the track all week. On Friday, coach Adam Simpson admitted McGovern needed to pass a fitness test to be selected.

He looked proppy on occasion, but isn't the smoothest mover at the best of times, with an inimitable gait and tendency to receive a knock here or there. But McGovern finished with 14 disposals, nine marks and six rebound-50s – one of which was very important.

WEST COAST'S GRAND DAY Full match details and stats

Vardy has been a real cog in the Eagles' machine since No.1 ruckman Nic Naitanui went down with a knee injury in round 17, while Ryan put behind him a fumbly display with a hand in the final moment. He was criticised by AFL great Leigh Matthews during the game for not committing his body to the contest, but lifted when required.

Sheed's deadeye kick was the icing on an amazing performance from the midfielder, who gathered 32 disposals (15 contested) and had eight clearances. He was dropped three times this season but won back his place towards the end of the season and won his team a premiership.  


What did it mean?

Everything. The Eagles conceded the first five goals of the game and were behind the eight-ball from there, but managed to slowly claw back the margin and control of the contest. However, they weren't able to put it on the scoreboard. It took Sheed's effort to drag them over the line.

DARLING'S DIRE MOMENT Things we learned

How did they call it?

"If he kicks the goal, I think West Coast can win the Grand Final. Massive. Sheed from the boundary, needs to be perfect and he is. He's got the most impossible goal" – Brian Taylor, Channel 7

Any cameo performers?

When Liam's pass to Sheed hung in the air a little more than he would have hoped, Collingwood defender Brayden Maynard closed in on making a spoil. But Eagles forward Willie Rioli cleverly guarded space and knocked Maynard off his line, allowing Sheed to mark the ball uncontested.

A SHUE-IN Eagle mid wins the Norm Smith Medal

And the fans went ...

Absolutely bonkers. Eagles fans rejoiced on their way to their fourth premiership, while Collingwood fans complained that Sheed had taken a couple of steps and should have been called to 'play on' after the grab.

What did they say?

Jeremy McGovern: "I knew I had to mark it so I went for it. There was nothing too drastic about it, I just knew I had to mark it and go, which luckily I did and it worked out.

"I did think [Sheed] would kick the goal. I was confident in Dommy, he's a very good set shot for goal and it was the left-footer's side. He kicked one a couple of weeks ago from his right side so I thought if he's kicked that one then surely he'll kick this one. Credit to him he got it for us."

Dom Sheed: "I thought about going around the corner or playing on but I thought I'd go back and have a crack," he said.

"I thought I'd probably be able to hit the ball better, a bit more flush, if I just went for a straight drop punt.

"With less than two minutes to go in a Grand Final to put your team in front ... you're s****ing yourself a bit, that's the reality.

"That's what happens on the biggest stage.

"I thought I hit it well. I don't really remember it right now, it's all still so raw and surreal ... I can't believe I've got a medal around my neck."


Will they play it in 20 years time?

Whenever we see flashes of the Eagles' 2006 Grand Final one-point win over Sydney, it includes vision of Daniel Chick's amazing smother, then handball to Adam Hunter and then shepherd as Hunter drills the match-winning goal.

This will be the passage of play that encapsulates the 2018 premiership decider. It goes down as the most major moment of one of the all-time great Grand Finals.

Sidebar Eagles

- with AAP