West Coast coach Adam Simpson insists his side won’t start playing “dangerous” resting games despite all but sewing up a top-two berth with their 77-point demolition of the Western Bulldogs on Sunday.
Forward Josh Kennedy booted seven goals and Nic Naitanui starred in the ruck to lift the Eagles to the 25.12 (162) to 13.7 (85) rout at Domain Stadium.
The result pushed West Coast six points clear ahead of the third-placed Hawks with just two rounds remaining, meaning the Eagles only need to win one more game to secure a home qualifying final.
And they could even win the minor premiership if Fremantle lose again in the next two weeks.
West Coast will be boosted by the return of key defender Jeremy McGovern for Sunday’s clash with the Crows in Adelaide.
McGovern has twice injured his hamstring over the past six weeks.
But Simpson shot down talk of giving his star defender an extra week to recover despite the luxurious position West Coast now find themselves in.
“I don’t think we’ll play those games to be honest,” Simpson said.
“I don’t feel like we’re in a position where we need to rest players. I think it’s dangerous for us.
“If we’re in this position two or three years in a row and we can manage our players in a way that we thought we’re going to be there at the pointy end, it’s a bit different.
“But at the moment we’re enjoying the ride we’re on and I don’t really want to mess it up by trying to manage players through games.”
The Bulldogs were left counting the cost of their heaviest defeat of the season, dropping to sixth on the table after losing 7.1 percentage points.
Forward Jarrad Grant broke his nose after a clash of heads with teammate Marcus Bontempelli.
Defender Dale Morris could also be set for a stint on the sidelines after being subbed out with a sore Achilles tendon.
And developing ruckman Tom Campbell could miss Saturday’s crunch clash with North Melbourne after copping a heavy cork to his leg.
Campbell copped a hammering in his ruck battle against Naitanui, who tallied 14 disposals, 48 hit-outs, six clearances, and one goal.
But Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge took umbrage when asked whether he should have considered playing a more experienced ruck option against the Eagles.
“Have you seen what we have done the last month? What do you think?” Beveridge bristled.
“Are you suggesting we should have played another ruck?
“Why ask the question when we have had the month we have had and have probably been playing our best footy.”
Sunday’s game threatened to turn into an old-fashioned shootout as Kennedy starred up one end and Bulldogs duo Jake Stringer and Stewart Crameri fired at the other.
By halftime, Stringer (four goals) and Crameri (three) had seven goals between them, with the margin just 17 points heading into time on in the third quarter.
But West Coast obliterated their opponent from that point on to cruise to victory, with Josh Hill (four goals) helping out in the demolition.