THE REIGNING premiers are rolling again.
If there were lingering doubts West Coast had shrugged off an early-season malaise, they were expelled in a crushing 61-point win over the Western Bulldogs on Sunday.
While the 'Jekyll and Hyde' Dogs might be far from the AFL's measuring stick, the Eagles' evisceration was exactly what the competition has been waiting for.
EAGLES FLYING Full match coverage and stats
Fits and spurts had been enough for West Coast in seven wins, but victory No.8 was a sure sign that Adam Simpson's outfit is still one of the yardsticks.
After an arm-wrestle in the opening half, when the Bulldogs' wastefulness in front of goal always threatened to come back to bite, the Eagles unleashed a nine-goal-to-three blitz in the premiership quarter.
Star tall forwards Jack Darling (six goals) and dual Coleman medallist Josh Kennedy (three) – who has kicked more goals against the Dogs (53) than any other team – always loomed as the threats, and cashed in from a midfield that was well on top.
Darling faced calls for his spot after going scoreless and being held to three marks in shambolic losses to Port Adelaide and Geelong, but has now booted 25 goals for the season and is getting back to the imposing form that saw him dominate early in 2018.
West Coast's 21.7 (133) to 10.12 (72) win was a handy percentage-booster, and courtesy of Richmond's stumble, the Eagles finish round 11 a game clear inside the top four with the premiership defence well on track.
Every Eagle got in on the act, with Andrew Gaff (36 disposals) racking up possessions, Jeremy McGovern (eight marks) and Brad Sheppard (22 disposals) imperious in defence, and youngster Jake Waterman booting three consecutive goals to finish the third term.
EAGLES INJURY WORRY Simpson concerned for skipper
The only downside could be an injury to skipper Shannon Hurn, who dominated across half-back with 18 touches before spending the final term on the bench.
For the Dogs, it was another humbling in the west, where they have now lost 13 of their past 14 games.
Their season is slipping towards irrelevancy at 4-7 after three-straight losses.
Luke Beveridge would have been tearing his hair out in the first term as his troops failed to take advantage of their chances and booted 2.7 to go to the break with scores level.
'ON A JOURNEY' Dogs still searching for consistency
The misses piled up, none worse than by Mid-Season Rookie pick-up Ryan Gardner, whose head must have been spinning after he was marked by triple All Australian defender McGovern just six days after he was drafted.
Gardner missed a crucial snap from metres out at the 22-minute mark of the second quarter after catching Oscar Allen holding the ball, and it proved costly as West Coast went coast-to-coast from the kick-in and Elliot Yeo kicked truly.
At that stage, the margin was just 11 points, but West Coast piled on 15 of the next 22 goals, flexing their muscles to remind everyone they remain a true heavyweight after a fifth-straight win.
Gardner provided a silver lining late when he slotted his first goal and was mobbed by his teammates, but it was one of few highlights for the visitors, whose only multiple goalkicker was Billy Gowers (two).
Diminutive onballer Caleb Daniel (34 disposals) and Josh Dunkley (33) did their best to keep the Dogs' midfield in the contest, but it was at either end where their inexperience showed on a tough night at Optus Stadium.
West Coast: Eagles skipper Shannon Hurn spent the final quarter on the bench under mysterious circumstances but they otherwise seemed to have no issues on the injury front.
Western Bulldogs: Lachie Young came off during the second term with what appeared to be a glute problem but he returned.
The Eagles head to the SCG – where they have won only once against the Swans in 11 games – on Sunday, while the Bulldogs will enjoy the bye over round 12.
WEST COAST 3.1 7.3 16.5 21.7 (133)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.7 4.10 7.10 10.12 (72)
West Coast: Darling 6, Kennedy 3, Waterman 3, Ryan 3, Cripps 2, Yeo, Sheed, Allen, Rioli
Western Bulldogs: Gowers 2, Dunkley, Naughton, Lloyd, Bontempelli, Dale, Liberatore, Suckling, Gardner
West Coast: Darling, Gaff, Shuey, Hurn, McGovern, Sheppard
Western Bulldogs: Daniel, Dunkley, Johannisen, Liberatore, Lloyd, Bontempelli
West Coast: Nil
Western Bulldogs: Nil
Reports: Aaron Naughton (Western Bulldogs) for striking Will Schofield
Umpires: Dalgleish, Nicholls, Haussen
Official crowd: 53,195 at Optus Stadium