NOT EVEN a relatively off day could end West Coast's league-leading winning streak.
>> WATCH THE HIGHLIGHTS IN THE PLAYER ABOVE
Coach Adam Simpson's eyebrows were furrowed for much of Sunday night's 32-point victory over Hawthorn – the Eagles' seventh straight – but ruthless efficiency and aerial dominance kept the roll going.
They reclaimed their top-four position in the process and deserve to be on the top line of premiership betting.
Jeremy McGovern was one of the best players afield in his return from a four-game absence, with he and fellow defender Tom Barrass combining for 17 marks and 19 intercept possessions.
Nic Naitanui dominated in the ruck again, with Luke Shuey and Dom Sheed thriving at his feet to ensure they saw off a gallant Hawks effort to eventually win 12.9 (81) to 7.7 (49) at Optus Stadium.
EAGLES v HAWKS Full match coverage and stats
West Coast was never troubled, at least on the scoreboard, keeping Hawthorn scoreless in the opening quarter in establishing a 22-point advantage it never relented.
Even still, Alastair Clarkson's Hawks, who slumped to a 4-7 record on the season, led the inside 50 count at every break and did so enough for Simpson to be concerned about the territory battle at half-time.
However, with McGovern and Barrass headlining a stingy defence, the Eagles went to work at the other end.
Livewire forward Liam Ryan soared three separate times – twice in the first quarter – to haul in contested marks and kick goals, while Jack Darling and Josh Kennedy also wreaked havoc at times.
Two of Kennedy's three majors came in the first three minutes of the third quarter as his side surged to a match-high advantage of 43 points.
Hawthorn had its own good contributors, with ball magnets Tom Mitchell, Jaeger O'Meara and James Worpel helping limit Naitanui's damage.
Young defenders Will Day and Jack Scrimshaw were also highly promising, offering a glimpse into the club's future.
There was one more blow near the final siren, with star backman James Sicily going down with a knee injury.
Flyin' Ryan gets airborne … three times
West Coast forward Liam Ryan's aerial exploits are famous by now, but it doesn't make them any less enthralling when they happen. Ryan wasted no time getting involved on Sunday night, elevating twice in the opening term to haul in great grabs inside 50. The first came in a huge pack of players, with any number of fists flying, but the 23-year-old plucked the Sherrin from the air. The second of them was similarly high, albeit less crowded, with Ryan beating James Frawley and Will Day to snatch another mark. That'd be plenty for most players, but Ryan wasn't done. He soared once more, just before three-quarter time, to pull down another skyscraping contested mark. What was even better was the exciting Eagle kicked goals each time.
Heard the one about two Irishmen at Optus Stadium?
Conor Glass' senior promotion for Sunday night's match meant he and fellow Irish product Conor Nash played their fourth AFL game together – and for the first time outside Melbourne. Coincidentally, West Coast was also the opponent when they first stepped out together, in round 22, 2018. This was also Nash's second appearance of the year, so the countrymen have battled for senior opportunities. Glass is out of contract at season's end, but consistently good form in the reserves scratch matches earned him a chance to prove he deserves another contract. He was a competent performer in his return, running hard on the wing, using the ball tidily and kicking a third-quarter goal. Nash had a quieter day, including drawing coach Alastair Clarkson's ire with a dropped chest mark near goal.
Jack proves himself a Darling with selfless play
Never suggest West Coast's forwards are goal hungry again. Jack Darling had a chance to bang through his third major in the final term after marking strongly, only to see something he liked more. Nic Reid's journey to his first AFL game was an interesting one, from amateur football to the Eagles' WAFL side and eventually being signed in the pre-season supplemental selection period. Reid was hovering nearby after Darling's mark and the latter decided to handball to him, despite being barely 20m out. The debutant made the unlikely opportunity count, snapping a goal to spark wild celebrations as rain teamed down.
WEST COAST 3.4 6.5 11.7 12.9 (81)
HAWTHORN 0.0 2.3 5.6 7.7 (49)
West Coast: Kennedy 3, Ryan 3, Darling 2, Allen, Cripps, Sheppard, Reid
Hawthorn: Gunston 2, Shiels, Burgoyne, O'Brien, Glass, Worpel
West Coast: McGovern, Barrass, Shuey, Naitanui, Ryan, Sheed, Gaff
Hawthorn: Mitchell, O'Meara, Worpel, Day, Scrimshaw, Shiels
West Coast: Yeo (groin soreness) replaced in selected side by Brander, Redden (adductor)
Hawthorn: Sicily (right knee)