SYDNEY has blown away West Coast by 63 points after a remarkable first-half blitz despite the absence of superstar forward Lance Franklin at Optus Stadium on Friday night.
The Swans kicked the first eight goals before West Coast had even scored, led by Callum Mills (28 disposals and six clearances) and Luke Parker (26 disposals and two goals) along with their young brigade as they won 18.13 (121) to 9.4 (58).
Sydney dominated all the key statistics as it opened up a 58-point half-time lead, including 20-2 scoring shots and 39-10 inside 50s. The latter was the largest half-time inside 50 differential (+29) in the AFL since 2018. The Swans finished with a lopsided 65-29 inside-50 count as well as 384 to 313 disposals.
EAGLES v SWANS Full match coverage and stats
It was a major letdown for West Coast who welcomed back a host of stars including skipper Luke Shuey (18 disposals and seven clearances), two-time club champion Elliot Yeo (15 disposals) and Tim Kelly (16 disposals) after shocking Collingwood by 13 points last round.
The Eagles have had a rough season with injuries and players entering health and safety protocols, with Nic Naitanui and Jeremy McGovern the latest to miss, but appeared shell-shocked in a dire first-half display.
WA product Logan McDonald, called into the Sydney side to replace the injured Franklin, kicked two first-quarter goals to set the tone, including a wonderful 55m running goal. Hayden McLean also kicked two early as the Swans led by 34 points at the first change.
West Coast's returning stars struggled for impact, with Shuey only having one disposal in the first term, while Yeo didn’t touch the ball at all, although he spent a lengthy period in the changerooms after a heavy bump from Peter Ladhams.
Sydney didn’t relent in the second term, opening up a 63-point lead after a spectacular set shot from the boundary from Justin McInerney who had 24 disposals.
There would be no second-half resurrection for the Eagles, despite outscoring the Swans in the third quarter while Shuey's frustration was clear to see, involved in an off-the-ball scrap with McInerney and Mills.
Sydney pulled away again with seven fourth-quarter goals, with Isaac Heeney finishing with three for the game to cap a comprehensive win. Liam Ryan finished with three goals for West Coast.
West Coast's first-half horror show
West Coast has battled manfully throughout a raft of challenges in 2022, but it always felt like they had a performance like this in them. The first half was a horror show, going scoreless in the first quarter. Sydney kicked 8.8 before the Eagles finally got their first major 17 minutes into the second term. Across one of the most dominant first halves in recent memory, Sydney won scoring shots 20-2, inside 50s 39-10, disposals 206-157, hit-outs 26-11 and contested possessions 81-55.
Ladhams takes his chance
Off-season recruit Peter Ladhams capitalised on Naitanui's absence with an impressive performance in the ruck in his second game in red and white. Ladhams has had to wait for an opportunity but came into the side in round four following Tom Hickey's knee injury. Coincidentally, on the same day Ladhams' former club Port Adelaide confirmed a three-month injury to first-choice ruckman Scott Lycett, the new Swan had 24 hit-outs along with 24 disposals, five clearances and even kicked an athletic second-quarter goal.
Too many return at once?
Shuey, Yeo, Kelly and Cripps are absolute locks in West Coast's best 22 but bringing them back all at once raised some eyebrows this week. The Eagles were smashed by the Western Bulldogs by 55 points last year in similar circumstances, yet West Coast selectors were confident they weren’t underdone this time, with synergy the bigger concern. However, Sydney had more run in the first half, regularly finding a spare man and all four returning Eagles seemed rusty.
WEST COAST 0.0 2.0 4.3 9.4 (58)
SYDNEY 5.4 10.10 11.12 18.13 (121)
West Coast: Ryan 3, Kennedy 2, Redden, B.Williams, Darling, Cripps
Sydney: Heeney 3, McLean 2, McDonald 2, Hayward 2, Parker 2, Warner 2, Ronke, Bell, Ladhams, McInerney, Blakey
West Coast: Duggan, Redden, Naish, Ryan, Witherden
Sydney: Mills, Ladhams, Parker, Heeney, Lloyd, McInerney
West Coast: Nil
West Coast: Jake Waterman (unused)
Sydney: Josh Kennedy (unused)
Crowd: 42,888 at Optus Stadium