They got the job done against Essendon, but West Coast’s top-four credentials will be put to the test next week when they face off against North Melbourne at Domain Stadium.
The sixth-placed Eagles are just one win adrift of second spot after thrashing Essendon by 78 points in Thursday night’s AFL clash at Domain Stadium.
West Coast were patchy early on, before booting 13 of the last 15 goals of the match to cruise to the 20.10 (130) to 7.10 (52) win.
The Eagles started the season as one of the premiership favourites.
But their inability to beat a top-eight side during the first 15 rounds have left many questioning their title credentials.
West Coast have the chance to prove their doubters wrong when they host the Kangaroos on Sunday week, and Simpson says it’s a challenge his team will embrace.
“We need to beat a side like that to play finals, no doubt about that. We’re not shying away from that,” Simpson said.
“We haven’t been good enough to beat sides above us, whether it’s been home or away.
“So we’ve got some work to do.”
West Coast’s big win over Essendon was largely inspired by utility Patrick McGinnity, who booted four goals in his first AFL match of the season.
McGinnity had been forced to bide his time in the WAFL while his higher-profile teammates got given chances in the senior side.
But Simpson’s decision to axe recruit Jack Redden opened the door for McGinnity to return, and the 27-year-old’s grunt proved crucial in helping West Coast overcome their slow start against Essendon.
“Everyone loves playing with Ginna,” Simpson said.
“He’s tenacious, in-and-under, and really good for the club and for the players.
“And he’s earned his spot. We needed a bit of grunt in the side and I’m glad he produced. He got rewarded in the end.”
Simpson has urged Redden to rediscover his touch at WAFL level following his underwhelming start to the season.
The former Lion underwent adductor surgery during the pre-season, and Simpson was sure the disrupted summer had left Redden short of touch heading into the AFL campaign.
“He didn’t train with us until February. I’m not surprised it hasn’t been straight to the top of the midfield chain for us,” Simpson said.