West Coast Eagles criticized for lack of effort after Port Adelaide defeat, but there is still time to find form

West Coast premier Michael Braun gave the most damning assessment of his former team following their capitulation against Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval.

“They are terrible right now,” he told ABC Grandstand.

“There have been some changes and they have been hit by COVID… but that doesn’t change the effort.

“There is no excuse for lack of effort.”

There are few more insulting remarks that can be directed at a professional sports team than a lack of effort.

Eagle Luke Shuey evades Power’s Connor Rozee during Saturday night’s game. (AAP Image: Matt Turner)

While many wouldn’t have put West Coast in their top eight at the end of the season, few would have predicted the start they got off to.

A win in six games is the worst start for the club since 2010, when they won just four games, earning the wooden spoon.

The Eagles will need to find form quickly to avoid a repeat of 2010, and it’s unlikely a team that boasts the West Coast’s on-paper talent will continue to perform so poorly.

Hit on key stats

In the game against Port, the Eagles posted their third-lowest total so far in three quarters while allowing Power to build their biggest three-quarter lead.

He conceded 11 straight goals after kicking off the first major, and after scoring three goals to start the fourth quarter, allowed Port to kick the last seven en route to an 84-point win.

It was an Eagles team with 11 top-tier players and rising recruit Tim Kelly who was squashed on all the featured stats.

They lost disposals, punts, within 50, contested and uncontested possessions, hits, marks, tackles and somehow turnovers, despite having 76 fewer total disposals.

Power's Connor Rozee is tackled by Eagles' Bailey J. Williams
Power’s Connor Rozee tries to escape a tackle from Eagle Bailey Williams. (AAP Image: Matt Turner)

In fact, the Eagles are averaging fewer kills than any other AFL team this season, underscoring their struggles to get the ball.

The Eagles haven’t uttered the word rebuild, but it’s hard to see any other way out of the club’s current predicament.

Dockers ‘Real Deal’ Eye Finals

While West Coast languishes in 17th place, Fremantle sits pretty much at the top of the ladder.

The rebuilding, resetting and redesigning that the Dockers have undergone in recent years is paying off, with Andrew Brayshaw and Caleb Serong leading a young team to a 5-1 start to the season, the best since 2015 when the Dockers claimed the post of junior prime minister. .

For Fremantle, headaches are weeks away and they’re the kind coaches love.

Hayden Young and Heath Chapman will return to a defense that easily covered their absence against Carlton, and Brownlow’s captain and two-time gold medalist Nat Fyfe will need a place.

Who gives way to those players will be a point of contention, because no player deserves to lose his place.

As the Longshoremen players leave the field, Brennan Cox holds up his hands with thumbs up.
Dockers’ Brennan Cox celebrates victory over Carlton in Perth on Saturday. (AAP Image: Gary’s Day)

In the short term, the club needs to manage the prominence that comes with good form.

Mick Malthouse called the Dockers the real deal, and it’s a sentiment embraced within the gaming group.

“The nicest thing for us is that we’ve had some good wins in the last couple of weeks, but we’ve been able to reset and anchor early in the week and focus on the next game,” Serong told ABC Grandstand.

“While we haven’t had to deal with that kind of hype and talk, that’s what we want. That’s where we want to be. We want to be in the final.”

Fremantle passed their biggest test of the season against Carlton and immediately have an even bigger challenge, with Geelong at Kardinia Park.

It is a place that has not been a happy hunting ground for Fremantle, with just three wins from 18 visits, most recently in 2015.

During the Dockers’ last visit in 2018, the Cats beat them by 133 points, but a lot has changed at Fremantle since then.

Not many would expect the Dockers to win at Kardinia Park, but if they can remain competitive, it would be another point against the club’s Finals credentials.

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