High-flying Eagles beat Crows in AFL

Adelaide’s premiership hopes have been dealt a major blow after they fell to a 29-point loss to West Coast, which will likely dash their hopes of a top-two AFL finish.

The Eagles dominated the play and led at every break to claim a 14.16 (100) to 10.11 (71) win on Friday night at Adelaide Oval.

It paves the way for West Coast to claim either a top-four finish or a home elimination final depending on the weekend’s remaining games.

It will also fill the Eagles with confidence they can perform against the competition’s best sides without injured star Nic Naitanui, who was replaced admirably by back-ups Scott Lycett and Jonathan Giles.

Adelaide could finish as low as fifth, and a home qualifying final will be achieved only if there are upsets in at least two other games.

In a sellout clash with finals-like intensity, West Coast proved better at handling the pressure.

The Eagles, led by Luke Shuey, Andrew Gaff and Matt Priddis, won the battle in the middle and moved the ball through the corridor with ease.

Gaff had a career-best 41 disposals after gathering 38 touches in last week’s win over Hawthorn.

After a tight first quarter, West Coast went out firing in the second term as Shuey ran rampant, gathering 12 of his 31 touches to continue his magnificent run of form.

The Crows fought back to reduce the margin to 11 points at halftime, but it was all West Coast in the third stanza, booting five unanswered goals to dismay the 50,785-strong crowd.

Adelaide, missing suspended star Rory Sloane, were uncharacteristically sloppy and struggled to supply their high-powered forward line as Eagles Jeremy McGovern and rookie Tom Barrass gathered a combined 16 marks.

After booting 20 goals in his past four games, Eddie Betts didn’t have a touch until the second quarter and finished with just one goal.

West Coast spearhead Josh Kennedy kicked five goals to take his season tally to 80 and open up a near unassailable lead in his pursuit of a second consecutive Coleman Medal.

The Eagles now enter the finals as one of the form sides after claiming successive wins against Greater Western Sydney, Hawthorn and Adelaide.

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