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Eagles soar into semis as Dons' finals drought rolls on

Highlights: West Coast v Essendon The Eagles and Bombers clash in Elimination Final

WEST Coast has continued Essendon's long finals drought, riding a red-hot first quarter all the way to a 55-point elimination final win at Optus Stadium on Thursday night.

A six-goal opening term set up the 17.14 (116) to 9.7 (61) victory, with Josh Kennedy bouncing back to form with four goals and Norm Smith medallist Luke Shuey leading the Eagles' midfield.

For the Bombers it was an all-too-familiar September tale, continuing a drought that dates back to 2004. 

Although they hinted at a comeback in the third quarter following brilliant back-to-back goals from Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti and Adam Saad, the Bombers never truly threatened. 

The meek exit is sure to ramp the heat up on Essendon coach John Worsfold. 

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West Coast was on from the outset, with its intensity around the ball – particularly in the opening quarter - up a level from the premiership matches. 

It will now travel to Melbourne next week to play the loser of Friday night's qualifying final between Geelong and Collingwood.

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Kennedy was on the end of some silver service from his midfield and half-backs and found plenty of space in an outing that matched his career-high for goals in a final.

EAGLES DOWN DONS Full match coverage and stats

Jamie Cripps also kicked four goals to go with 22 touches, while Liam Ryan (three), Jack Darling (two) and Jake Waterman (two) shared the goalkicking load.

Shuey (34 disposals and eight clearances) got better and better as the night wore on, getting the ball rolling with a clever left-footed pass to Kennedy and finishing with three goal assists.

>> We give the top 10 players a score out of 10. Swipe across

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Jack Redden (29) typified the home team's desperation with a smother in the opening seconds of the second quarter that resulted in Kennedy's third goal, while Andrew Gaff (33) was also prolific. 

With the ball in hand West Coast was devastating, particularly the indigenous trio of Lewis Jetta (19 touches at 84 percent efficiency), Willie Rioli (15 touches and two assists) and Ryan. 

Rioli's first quarter was sensational, with six of his seven disposals leading to scores, including his own brilliant right-foot snap on the run. 

In further good news for the premiers, Nic Naitanui got through unscathed in his first match since round 17, although both he and Zach Merrett were reported for a third quarter incident that had players racing in from both teams. 

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Merrett started the fracas by pulling Naitanui's dreadlocked hair and the Eagle retaliated by slinging the Bombers onballer into the fence.

From a playing standpoint, Naitanui's athleticism looked back after returning from an ankle injury, and a rundown tackle of the dangerous Saad summed up his desire. 

Skipper Shannon Hurn was also solid after overcoming a hamstring injury to play.

For Essendon it was left to too few, with Saad a real standout. 

WOOSHA Bombers failed to cope with finals pressure

The lightning quick defender tried valiantly to lift the Bombers, finishing with two goals from 18 disposals that gained his team 583m. 

Youngster Andrew McGrath (30 disposals) and skipper Dyson Heppell (31) could also hold their heads high.

WEST COAST     6.4     10.8     13.11     17.14     (116)
ESSENDON         3.1     6.2     8.5     9.7     (61)

GOALS
West Coast: Kennedy 4, Cripps 4, Ryan 3, Waterman 2, Darling 2, Rioli, Sheed
Essendon: Snelling 2, Saad 2, McDonald-Tipungwuti 2, McGrath, Laverde, Fantasia

BEST 
West Coast: Shuey, Cripps, Yeo, Sheed, Rioli, Jetta, Kennedy
Essendon: Saad, Heppell, McGrath, Shiel, Francis

INJURIES 
West Coast: Nelson (head knock)
Essendon: Brown (calf)

Reports: Zach Merrett reported for misconduct on Nic Naitanui, Nic Naitanui reported for rough conduct on Zach Merrett

Umpires: Fisher, Stevic, Stephens

Official crowd: 59,216 at Optus Stadium