West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui faces a fight to be fit for the AFL finals after injuring his knee in their 25-point win over Hawthorn at Domain Stadium.
Naitanui damaged his left knee just before three-quarter time on Friday night after landing awkwardly in a marking contest and played no further part in the match.
His injury soured what was an otherwise brilliant victory to the Eagles, whose 13.14 (92) to 10.7 (67) has left Hawthorn’s top-two hopes hanging by a thread, with the defending premiers in danger of slipping to fourth by the end of the round.
Adding to their woes was a right-knee injury to ruckman Jonathon Ceglar, who hobbled to the bench in the third quarter after an awkward landing.
Star Hawks midfielder Jordan Lewis faces a potential suspension after striking Eagles ruckman Scott Lycett as the duo wrestled on the ground.
Hawthorn can secure a top-four berth with victory over Collingwood next week, but they’ll need two of rivals Sydney, Adelaide and Geelong to slip up if they are to finish in the top two.
West Coast’s second win on the trot over a high-class rival has put them back in the premiership conversation, but they’re unlikely to snare an all-important top-four berth.
The Eagles take on the Crows in Adelaide next week in what’s shaping as another huge test.
If Naitanui’s unable to return in time for the finals, it would leave West Coast vulnerable in the ruck and through the midfield.
He was brilliant in the ruck against the Hawks, while Andrew Gaff, Matt Priddis, Mark LeCras, and Chris Masten did the damage at ground level.
Jeremy McGovern was sublime in defence, and up forward it was the Josh Kennedy show, with the Coleman Medal leader obliterating opponent James Frawley early on the way to a five-goal haul.
The Eagles were utterly dominant in that first term, winning the clearances 14-5, contested possessions 46-23, and inside 50s 15-10.
Lewis Jetta’s start to the match typified West Coast’s resolve.
Dropped three times already this season, Jetta made the most of his latest recall by tallying six disposals and a goal in the first quarter.
Hawthorn midfielder Sam Mitchell tore West Coast to shreds in last year’s grand final, but opposed to tagger Mark Hutchings, he didn’t pick up his first possession until a lucky free kick right on quarter time.
West Coast’s dominance continued in the second term, and although they kicked a wayward 3.9 in the third term, it was enough to set up a match-winning 41-point lead.