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Wayward Eagles down Dons to soar into top four

Highlights: West Coast v Essendon The Eagles and Bombers clash in round 14

A WASTEFUL West Coast has dominated a listless Essendon, winning by 35 points on Thursday night at Optus Stadium.

The scoreboard flattered the Bombers, with the Eagles throwing away a percentage-boosting opportunity in the 14.22 (106) to 11.5 (71) win.

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West Coast had swung the axe ahead of the game, dropping four players as well as losing Nathan Vardy and Willie Rioli to suspension. 

The Eagles were stung into action, controlling the ball by foot around the outside of the contest and peppering their forward half (a whopping 64 entries and 22 marks inside 50). 

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By contrast, the Essendon forwards barely got a look-in after quarter-time, the understrength line (missing Joe Daniher and Jake Stringer) no match for West Coast's experienced and big-bodied defence of Jeremy McGovern, Shannon Hurn and Will Schofield.

The game was broken open in the second term, but an extraordinary period of dominance was nearly squandered, the Eagles recording 22 inside 50s to four but kicking just 3.10 in that time. 

Spearhead Josh Kennedy was a serial offender, leading up at the ball and marking well but recording one goal and five behinds to half-time. 

He started to turn things around in the third term, nailing a set shot from 40m on a tight angle to kick the opening goal of the quarter and following up with another just minutes later.

That subsequent goal was notable for the casual ball movement afforded to Oscar Allen, Elliot Yeo and Luke Shuey, with very little pressure applied by the Bombers players as the trio loped up the wing.

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The Bombers just couldn't clear the Eagles' back half, the reigning premiers choking up the field and blocking up avenues usually used by Essendon's speedy half-back flankers. 

Adam Saad was well held by Mark Hutchings, while Conor McKenna struggled to get his run and carry game going. 

The match appeared to be meandering to an inevitable conclusion a close until Essendon kicked four in a row, before debutant Jarrod Cameron's second – roving off the back of the pack – steadied the Eagles. 

Dom Sheed (36 disposals, six clearances and two goals) and Andrew Gaff (31 and six inside 50s) were customarily busy, while McGovern (seven marks) was a rock in defence and Jack Redden was strong in his 200th AFL game.

For the Bombers, Zach Merrett and Dyson Heppell (30 apiece) battled hard, while Josh Begley (three goals) was damaging from limited supply.

The game will keep Match Review Officer Michael Christian busy, with McGovern reported for rough conduct after pushing Matt Guelfi into the fence, and Mason Redman in the book after an odd backheel at Oscar Allen, who was lying on the ground. 

Guelfi was taken to hospital in the third term to be checked over due to rib and abdominal pain. 

Essendon's slim ruck stocks could be further stretched after Tom Bellchambers collected Luke Shuey high with a bump from his hip. 

West Coast: Aside from two cut heads (Liam Ryan and Brad Sheppard), the Eagles got through unscathed.
Essendon: Matt Guelfi was pushed as he kicked and crashed into the fence and then a plastic chair. He left the ground in the third term to get checked over in hospital after feeling pain in his ribs and abdomen. Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti needed his head bandaged after a clash in the first term but played out the game.

West Coast will be hoping to maintain its spot in the top rungs of the ladder when it takes on Hawthorn at the MCG on Saturday. Essendon features once again on Thursday night, hosting Greater Western Sydney at Marvel Stadium. 

WEST COAST     3.4     7.14     11.17     14.22     (106)
ESSENDON     4.0    6.1     8.1     11.5     (71)

West Coast: Kennedy 3, Cripps 2, Sheed 2, Cameron 2, Petruccelle 2, Yeo, Darling, Ryan
Essendon: Begley 3, Laverde 2, McGrath, Parish, McDonald-Tipungwuti, Shiel, Bellchambers, Brown 

West Coast: Sheed, Sheppard, Yeo, Kennedy, Redden, Hutchings
Essendon: Merrett, Heppell, Hooker, Parish, Redman, Hurley

West Coast: Nil
Essendon: Guelfi (ribs/abdomen)

Reports: McGovern (West Coast) reported for rough conduct against Guelfi (Essendon) in the first quarter, Redman (Essendon) reported for rough conduct against Allen (West Coast) in the second quarter.

Umpires: Margetts, Dalgleish, Gavine, Meredith

Official crowd: 52,810 at Optus Stadium