West Coast coach Adam Simpson is backing his team to rebound from their horror display against Hawthorn, saying it’s important to stick together in the face of heavy criticism.
The Eagles looked far from a premiership contender in their 46-point loss to the Hawks at the MCG on Sunday.
West Coast were thrashed in several key areas of the match, including inside-50s (68-34), possessions (458-293), and marks inside-50 (16-7).
The result mirrored West Coast’s capitulation in last year’s grand final.
Eight West Coast players failed to reach the 10-possession mark on Sunday, including star ruckman Nic Naitanui and prized recruit Lewis Jetta.
In contrast, only one Hawthorn player failed to reach double digits – ruckman Ben McEvoy.
Simpson admitted a host of his players underperformed.
But he’s keen to give them a chance to atone, starting with Saturday night’s western derby against Fremantle.
“We need to stick together on it, and we need to learn from the weekend,” Simpson told Perth radio station 6PR.
“We haven’t lost our talent overnight, so we’ll back them in.”
West Coast’s poor record at the MCG has led some experts to claim the Eagles’ game plan struggles to work at the wider venue.
But Simpson said poor skill errors and an inability to handle pressure were the main areas that cost West Coast.
“We know we’ve got the skill and the good ball use. And we can rely on our mids to get it done,” Simpson said.
“But for some reason we couldn’t use the ball well, and then that feeds into all other things as well.”
West Coast will be boosted by the return of midfielder Chris Masten against the Dockers.
Fremantle are struggling at 0-2 following losses to the Bulldogs and Gold Coast.
Dockers coach Ross Lyon has already floated the possibility of tweaking his side’s centre-square tactics, and Simpson is bracing his team for a tough battle.