WEST Coast coach Adam Simpson has praised his players for becoming tougher in the contest after being challenged to "get their hands dirty" following a slow start to the season.
After winning just three of their first six games, the reigning premiers have now won four on the trot after Saturday's remarkable comeback victory against Adelaide at Adelaide Oval.
The Eagles were down by 33 points early in the third quarter before kicking 10 of the next 13 goals to run out 12-point winners – 13.7 (85) to 10.13 (73).
EAGLES STEAL A GEM Full match coverage and stats
That was despite having 12 less inside 50s (60-48) than the Crows, while breaking even (170-170) in contested possessions and laying 101 tackles, 10 more than their opposition.
"We challenged our players probably a month ago that we need to get our hands dirty a bit more," Simpson said.
"The numbers probably don't suggest it when you look at contested ball, but our intent and effort has been there for the most part.
"It wasn't there for the second quarter, but our numbers from a tackling point of view, it's not a massive stat for us, but we had a go in that area."
Elliot Yeo and Jack Redden had 15 tackles each, Dom Sheed had 22 contested possessions and Luke Shuey and Andrew Gaff led the team with 33 disposals.
While they now sit with a 7-3 record after 10 games, Simpson admitted the second quarter – when the Eagles conceded 5.4 to 0.1, and 24 inside 50s to just five – was a worry.
"That second quarter was a major concern so we need to look at that, a lot, because our best is as good as anyone and our worst is as bad as anyone," he said.
"At half-time we adjusted a couple of things, but our players just got a bit tougher.
"We had to adapt to the conditions and the environment, and our second half was tremendous."
WATCH Adam Simpson's full post-match media conference
Forward Jack Darling played his best game of the season, kicking three goals, while ruckman Nathan Vardy – criticised for pushing Max Gawn when he was injured last week - overcame a tough week to get the better of Reilly O'Brien.
"All you can do is put your arm around him, he did the wrong thing, but some of the stuff on social media that you try and keep your players away from is ridiculous," Simpson said.
"He's a big boy, so moved on pretty quick, but at the same time, they do feel the heat."